Former UNESCO Goodwill Ambassadors, Artists for Peace and Champions

Through the actions of its Goodwill Ambassadors, Artists for Peace and Champions, UNESCO raises public awareness of its mandate and programmes. Once appointed, these personalities agree to use their talent and fame to carry high UNESCO’s values and goals, through the events that they organize, the projects that they carry out and the debates in which they participate.

The UNESCO Goodwill Ambassadors programme also increases the visibility of UNESCO's actions to make them more widely known to decision-makers and the general public, and, in some cases, to raise funds.

UNESCO Former Goodwill Ambassadors

Ivonne A-Baki

Ecuadorian diplomat and politician, Ivonne A-Baki was designated as UNESCO Goodwill Ambassador in February 2010 in light of her contribution to the Organization’s work in the field of Dialogue among cultures.

Her support includes her participation in the UNESCO project “Arabia Plan”, highlighting cultural link between the Arab world and Latin America. She is also a member of international juries for competitions on artistic expressions as bridges for intercultural dialogue.

Ivonne A-Baki was engaged in the Yasuni ITT project which aims to preserve the national park threatened by oil activity. Classified as a Biosphere Reserve by UNESCO since 1989, Yasuni Park is located in Ecuador at the intersection of the Amazon, the Andes and the Equator.

José Antonio Abreu (1939-2018)

UNESCO Goodwill Ambassador since 1998, Mr José Antonio Abreu, was a world-renowned Venezuelan conductor committed to making music education a vehicle for development.

Founder of the National Network of Children's and Youth Orchestras of Venezuela (El Sistema), he has trained more than 150 orchestras representing more than 100,000 young musicians. These orchestras are intended to spread music among children in popular districts and to promote music in all strata of Venezuelan society.

In his capacity as UNESCO Goodwill Ambassador, Mr Abreu performed at the Organization Headquarters and around the world to support UNESCO’s programmes promoting musical education for young people and children, or the education of disadvantaged children.

In addition, he served as a Minister of Culture from 1983 to 1988 and President of Venezuela’s National Council for Culture.

José Antonio Abreu passed away on 24 March 2018.

 

Paul Ahyi (1930-2010)

Born in 1930, Paul Ahyi strove to increase the world’s knowledge and appreciation of African culture. He was convinced that cultural diversity was a key to dialogue between peoples.Through his numerous artistic activities, he played a decisive role in highlighting our common ideals of diversity, tolerance and intercultural dialogue in Africa and the rest of the world.

His works, recognized not only on the African continent but throughout the world, were shown in West Africa, New York, the United Nations, Paris, the Republic of Korea, China, Canada, Italy and Japan.

In light of the contribution he made through his art to UNESCO’s ideals, he was designated as a UNESCO Artist for Peace on September 10, 2009.

Paul Ahyi received a number of other honors, including the Médaille d’Or des Métiers d’Arts (1961). He was also awarded with several distinctions, and was thus appointed Officer of the Mono Order in Togo (1970), Commander of the Palmes Académiques Françaises (1985) and Officer of the Arts et Lettres de France (1985). Paul Ahyi also wrote several books including “La réflexion sur l’art et la culture” and “Togo, mon cœur saigne”.

Paul Ahyi passed away on 4 January 2010.

 

Virgilijus Alekna

Virgilijus Alekna, a former Lithuanian discus thrower, was appointed UNESCO Champion for Sport in November 2007, in light of his role in promoting sport at school.

His long career has been crowned by the highest titles: Olympic Champion in 2000, World Champion in 2003, Olympic Champion in 2004, World Champion in 2005 and European Champion in 2006.

Through the Virgilijus Alekna Club, he has been an active promoter of sport and physical education among young people. He also contributed to the Lithuanian Olympic Education Program, a program supported by UNESCO.

 

 

Alicia Alonso (1920-2019)

The Cuban ballerina and choreographer Alicia Alonso was designated UNESCO Goodwill Ambassador in June 2002, in light of her outstanding contribution to the development, preservation and popularization of classical dance, through which she promoted UNESCO’s ideals and the fellowship of the world’s peoples and cultures.

Through the numerous activities she undertook in her native Cuba, Ms Alonso played an exceptional role to preserve, develop, popularize and promote classical dance, especially among young generations.

As Director and leading figure of the Cuban National Ballet, Alicia Alonso was an inspiration to a new generation of Cuban dancers who gained a notable place in international ballet. In June 1999, she was awarded the UNESCO Pablo Picasso Medal for her extraordinary contribution to dance.

In the years after her designation, she concerned herself with programmes and projects on basic education and on the preservation of tangible and intangible heritage. Furthermore, after 2007, she became the sponsor of UNESCO’s ‘Dance for Life’ programme, aimed at preventing elitism and exclusion in the field of dancing.

In her capacity as a UNESCO Goodwill Ambassador, she organised a special Gala event, which was held at the National Ballet of Cuba in March 2015 to celebrate UNESCO’s 70th anniversary. She also took part in International Dance Day Gala in 2018, organized by the International Theatre Institute under the patronage of UNESCO.

Alicia Alonso passed away on 17 October 2019.

 

Relja Bašić (1930-2017)

The Croatian actor, Relja Bašić, was born in Zagreb and has completed most of his studies at the Academy of Dramatic Art.

As an actor fluent in five foreign languages, he played leading roles in over 3.000 theatre performances and featured in as many as 120 films and television series, both at home and abroad. He has also directed numerous plays and won several awards, including the Croatian Theatre Award and the European Circle Prize award in 2001.

After fifty years working as an actor, director and artistic manager, Relja Bašić emerged as an outstanding individual, passionate about the well-being of humanity and of the Croatian people and culture. He believed that the present role of theatre was to bring people closer together. He considered theatre to be like a temple in which we are all equal, and hoped to use his talent to demonstrate this.

In becoming a UNESCO Artist for Peace, Relja Bašić was committed to cultural diversity, intercultural dialogue, art and creativity. He was also committed to high goals relating to international political priorities, particularly in the post-transitional countries of South-East Europe (S.E.E.).

Relja Bašić passed away on 7 April 2017.

 

Patrick Baudry

Mr Patrick Baudry, a former NASA French astronaut, was appointed UNESCO Goodwill Ambassador in September 1999, in light of his personal commitment, as a skydiver, to the service of youth education and the culture of peace.

Patrick Baudry contributed to the promotion of the "Woodcrafting knowledge of the Zafimaniry" in Madagascar, inscribed on the List of the Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity in 2008. The Zafimaniry community, representing approximately 25 000 people, is the last repository of this unique mastery of forestry and wood carving. Practically all the wooden surfaces of the villages, from utensils to houses, are decorated with elaborate motifs expressing the beliefs and values of the community.

In his capacity as a UNESCO Goodwill Ambassador, he chaired the panel "ICT and Literacy" at UNESCO Regional Conference "Literacy Challenges in the Arab States Region: Building Partnerships and Promoting Innovative Approaches", which took place in Doha in March 2007.

In addition, Mr Baudry participated at the opening ceremony of the Qatar Science & Technology Park in March 2009. This ceremony was held under the High Patronage of His Highness Sheikh Hamad Bin Khalifa Al Thani, Emir of Qatar from 1995 to 2013.

 

Marisa Berenson

Favorite actress of the greatest directors, Marisa Berenson has been closely collaborating with UNESCO since 1993 and was designated UNESCO Artist for Peace in 2001 in light of her multiple actions for disadvantaged children.

In her capacity as a UNESCO Artist for Peace, Marisa Berenson supported the UNESCO Program for the Education of Children in Need. She was also at the origin of the project entitled "Artists and Differences", which aims to promote the rights of disabled artists and their integration into the artistic community.

In 2001, Marisa Berenson helped found the UNESCO Berry Berenson Perkins Fund in memory of her tragically missing sister in the 9/11 Attacks in New York. This fund supported UNESCO's "The Power of Culture" program, which aimed to help young people affected by conflicts or disasters by giving them access to artistic practices to rediscover their history and their cultural identity.

 

Pierre Bergé (1930-2017)

UNESCO Goodwill Ambassador since 1992, Pierre Bergé is an emblematic figure in the fight against AIDS / HIV. Indeed, he devoted his whole life initiating campaigns against this disease through the Sidaction association he chaired since 1996.

Entrepreneur and co-founder of the Yves Saint Laurent fashion house, Mr Bergé has consistently defended with conviction the protection of the intangible cultural heritage of humanity. Passionate about Berber art and eager to preserve it, he opened in 2011 the Berber Museum in Majorelle Garden (Morocco).

Pierre Bergé provided unwavering support to many events organized by UNESCO and the Organization’s fields of competence, from topics such as climate change to the protection of human rights.

Pierre Bergé passed away September 8, 2017.

 

H.R.H Prince Talal Bin Abdul Aziz (1931-2018)

As a strong advocate for access to fresh water and the fight against poverty, His Royal Highness Prince Talal Bin Abdulaziz Al Saud committed himself to UNESCO's efforts to ensure that thousands of people escape the vicious cycle of poverty and illiteracy.

In his capacity as the Chairman of the Arab Gulf Program for Development (AGFUND), which he founded in 1980, he has worked for development, including the promotion of early childhood education and the modernization of education programs. The main objective of the Programme is still to ensure cooperation, coordination and partnership between the various actors of development.

Prince Talal was able to establish a fruitful cooperation between our two organizations and thus contributed to improving the daily life of thousands of disadvantaged.

In 2002 he committed himself to UNESCO in the struggle for the preservation of freshwater resources, in his capacity as a UNESCO Special Envoy for Water.

His Royal Highness Prince Talal Bin Abdulaziz Al Saud passed away in Riyadh on 22 December 2018.

 

Chico Bouchikhi

The international symbol of Gypsy music Chico Bouchikhi was designated UNESCO Artist for Peace in May 1996, in light of his commitment to promote a culture of peace.

Through his concerts, Chico Bouchikhi spreads a message of hope and peace for ethnic minorities, highlighting the richness of the culture and the traditions of the gypsies, such as during the first anniversary of the Oslo Peace Agreement between Shimon Peres and Yasser Arafat, or through his participation in events such as International Day of Cultural Diversity.

In his capacity as a UNESCO Artist for Peace, Chico Bouchikhi supports the empowerment of girls and women through quality education.

In May 2016, Chico Bouchikhi gave in Marrakech a charity concert under the patronage of UNESCO for the benefit of the Riad Zitoun School. This school, founded in March 1998, is engaged in the education and training of rural girls in the province of Haouz, Morocco.

 

Montserrat Caballé (1933-2018)

Montserrat Caballé, legendary opera singer and UNESCO Goodwill Ambassador, supported numerous UNESCO projects and activities in favor of children in need.

Montserrat Caballé used her talent to raise public awareness on numerous causes, including the fight against AIDS in the framework of the World Foundation for Research and Prevention of AIDS founded by Professor Luc Montagnier.

Montserrat Caballé was designated as a UNESCO Goodwill Ambassador on 22 April 1994 in light of her dedication to the ideals and aims of the Organization. In this capacity, she was committed to the defense of children in need in Somalia, Guatemala, Bosnia Herzegovina, and many other countries. She also performed at UNESCO Headquarters on the occasion of major events such as the Félix Houphouet-Boigny Peace Prize Award ceremony.

Montserrat Caballé passed away on 6 October 2018.

 

Sayon Camara

Well-known Guinean singer, Sayon Camara was appointed UNESCO Artist for Peace in 2002 in light of her efforts to promote traditional African music, filled with emotion and hope. Her music is in line with the Mandingo art of the great griots, singing peace and happiness.

In 1999 and 2002, she participated twice at the Félix Houphouët-Boigny Peace Prize at UNESCO headquarters.

 

Veronica Campbell Brown

A triple Olympic Gold Medallist, Veronica Campbell-Brown appointed UNESCO Champion for Sport in October 2009, in light of her advocacy for gender equity in sport.

Since her first participation at the 2004 Summer Olympic Games in Athens, she won eight Olympic medals. She is the second woman in history to win two consecutive Olympic 200 meter events, in 2004 and 2008.

In May 2011, Veronica Campbell-Brown launched her Foundation which supports the education of young women.

 

Pierre Cardin

The famous French visionary couturier Pierre Cardin was designated UNESCO Goodwill Ambassador in January 1991, in light of his contribution to the promotion of tolerance and mutual understanding through art.

Pierre Cardin has given unwavering support to UNESCO's programs, particularly the Chernobyl program entitled "Never Again - Priority Environment", implemented in Belarus, Ukraine and Russia following the nuclear disaster of April 1986.

As UNESCO's Goodwill Ambassador, Pierre Cardin sponsored the "Six Flags of Tolerance" project, a UNESCO initiative for the United Nations Year for Tolerance in 1995. UNESCO has offered the Six Flags to each of its member States, symbolizing the spirit of tolerance.

In March 1999, he organized an elephant race in Jaipur, India, as part of the celebrations planned for the year 2000. The benefits of the event were donated to disadvantaged children in India as part of the UNESCO World Program for the Education of Children in Need.

 

China Disabled People’s Performing Art Troupe

The China Disabled People’s Performing Art Troupe was appointed UNESCO Artist for Peace in July 2007. The Troupe received this title in light of its role in promoting UNESCO’s activities in Inclusion and Quality Learning Enhancement; and its contribution, through performing arts, to the propagation and promotion of peace, tolerance and hope.

Their dazzling performances make them a symbol of hope, solidarity and remarkable advocates of UNESCO’s activities in the field of inclusion and quality learning enhancement, within the framework of the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities.

The Troupe has acquired international recognition appearing in some of the most prestigious venues in the world such as the Scala in Milan, Carnegie Hall in New York and the Sydney Opera. They participated in the closing ceremony of the 2004 Paralympics Games in Athens and the opening ceremony of the 2008 Olympic Games in Beijing.

In June 2007, they performed at UNESCO Headquarters for the representatives of the Organization’s Member States.

 

Marin Constantin (1925-2011)

Marin Constantin, one of Romania’s most prominent cultural ambassadors, was designated UNESCO Goodwill Ambassador in 1992.

His expertise in ancient and classical music, in addition to his talent as a composer and conductor, made him one of the most distinguished classical music representatives.

The Madrigal Chamber Choir, over which he presided, has dedicated much of its work to UNESCO’s activities and to the World Heritage Centre.

Marin Constantin passed away on 1 January 2011.

 

Joaquín Cortés

The flamenco dancer and choreographer Joaquín Cortés was appointed UNESCO Artist for Peace in October 1999, for his extraordinary contribution to the preservation and promotion of the folkloric and artistic heritage of the gypsy people but also for his commitment to the disadvantaged and for the promotion of the values of equality, tolerance and solidarity among peoples.

The famous Spanish dancer mixes classical ballet and contemporary dance in a style all his own. He travels the world and performs in prestigious venues such as the Metropolitan Opera House in New York, the Congress Palace in the Kremlin in Moscow, the Champs Elysée Theater in Paris and the Royal Albert Hall in London.

Concerned about equality between peoples, the famous dancer constantly defends the community of which he is a native as well as the poorest people through his artistic activities.

 

Cheick Modibo Diarra

Dr Cheick Modibo Diarra, a scientist of international repute and former Director of the Jet Propulsion Laboratory of NASA, was appointed UNESCO Goodwill Ambassador in May 1998.

His designation came in light of his outstanding role in the Pathfinder Mission dedicated to the exploration of the planet Mars and for his contribution in promoting science education in Africa.

His work is entirely guided by his philosophy that “investing in humankind through education is the only way to obtain lasting and respectable development in Africa”. In 2000, he launched the Pathfinder Foundation, contributing to spread scientific education as a solid base for sustainable development in Africa.

As UNESCO Goodwill Ambassador and Chair of the Pathfinder Foundation, he carries out many projects in many countries in Sub-Saharan Africa by organizing workshops which teach children about the benefits of science to humanity.

In addition, Mr Diarra organized the World Education Forum in Dakar in April 2000 and the Forum on Africa at UNESCO Headquarters in November 2001.

 

Manu Dibango (1933-2020)

The famous Cameroonian jazz musician Manu Dibango was appointed UNESCO Artist for Peace in 2004, for his outstanding contribution to the development of arts, peace and dialogue among cultures throughout the world.

Manu Dibango believed deeply in the power of music to bring peoples and cultures together, because, as he said in a UNESCO Courier article in March 1991, music is “the most spontaneous, natural form of contact between one person and another”.

In May 2004 Manu Dibango participated in the inaugural concert of the International Day of Africa at UNESCO Headquarters. He supported the campaign for the promotion of a culture of peace in Africa. In January 2010, he participated with 50 other famous musicians and singers in a charity concert "Pour Haïti" in Paris. He also took part in the celebrations during the first International Jazz Day, held at the Organization's Headquarters in 2012. Two years later, Manu Dibango raised the flag of the French language by celebrating the International Day of La Francophonie – for support of the French language was a cause he cherished.

At the same time, guided by a constant spirit of justice, Manu Dibango never ceased to encourage creativity and defend the copyright of creators, thus placing himself at the heart of the missions of our Organization.

Manu Dibango passed away the 24 March 2020 at the age of 86.

 

Die Brenz Band

Die Brenz Band Orchestra, a German group founded by mentally and physically disabled musicians, was designated UNESCO Artist for Peace in February 2005, in light of its fervent commitment to the promotion of peace through its musical activities.

Die Brenz Band is a member of "Peace 21", a foundation dedicated to promoting peace through dialogue and art. It supports the foundation with its numerous concerts in Germany, Switzerland and the Middle East.

In 2002, Die Brenz Band Orchestra performed at the Swiss EXPO.02 national exhibition as part of an event entitled "Pain, Source of Creation".

In his capacity as a UNESCO Artist for Peace, Die Brenz Band Orchestra contributed to the success of the International Music Festival entitled "Festival Makel Los – sans tache" which was held in Beijing in October 2014. This event aimed to promote the rights of persons with disabilities and their social inclusion.

 

Céline Dion

The international superstar Céline Dion was appointed UNESCO Artist for Peace in September 1999, in light of her commitment to the ideals of the Organization by defending the values of the protection of childhood, the assistance to the most deprived and the fight against exclusion through popular music.

Céline Dion received the Icon Award for her outstanding contribution to the music industry at the 2016 Billboard Music Awards ceremony.

In her capacity as UNESCO Artist for Peace, she made a video speech which was very much welcomed during the Conference entitled “Internet and the radicalization of youth: Preventing, Acting and Living together”, held in Quebec city, Canada, from 30 October to 1 November 2016, in the framework of the UNESCO Information for All Programme (IFAP).