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Showing posts with label United Nations. Show all posts
Showing posts with label United Nations. Show all posts

Saturday, November 30, 2019

Ato Dakheel, a Yazidi living in Sweden

The Sun Shines all over the World

Ato Dakheel is a Yazidi born in Hardan, a small village in northern Iraq. In 2014, Ato and his family fled Iraq when ISIL attacked the city of Sinjar near the Sinjar Mountain close to the Iraq-Syria border. After a long journey, Ato ended up in Sweden, where he today goes to school. In an interview he tells in detail about his, Yazidis’ and Kurds’ history.

Today he serves as a goodwill ambassador for the Yazidi/Kurdish people through sharing the account of his migratory journey.

– The sun is an important symbol for Yazidis, Ato explains.

"On November 26, 2015, I came to Sweden and I call it my birthday," says Ato Dakheel.

Sunday, August 3, 2014 – Sinjar Massacre

Ato Dakheel says he will never forget Sunday, August 3, 2014. It was on that day, at 11 am, that ISIL attacked the city of Shingal, or Sinjar as it is also called. The city is located in northwestern Iraq near the Iraq-Syria border. About 80 percent of the city's population were at that time Yazidis, about 15 percent were Muslims and about 5 percent were Christians. The UN has described the ISIL attack on the Yazidis as genocide.
ISIL attacked and slaughtered all men and the elderly. Young girls were taken as sex slaves. ISIL took more than 50 cousins ​​of mine on August 3, 2014. It was 12 kilometres to the mountain. We walked all the way and ISIL was behind us. ISIL calls Yazidis “kafer”, which means that you don't believe in anything. We believe in God and angels, Ato explains. 

The World Community Needs to Act

In recent years, there have been a lot of tensions in the area around Shingal between different Kurdish forces.

“The world community needs /… / to act and put an end to the impunity that has been prevailing for a long time in a practically lawless Iraq. The UN has become lame and refrain many times from acting because they depend on the Iraqi government for their presence in the country. Failure to intervene, however, will lead to continued uncontrollable violence, law violations and war crimes,” the Swedish war correspondent and Middle Eastern analyst Magda Gad wrote in the Swedish newspaper Expressen on October 17, 2017.

The Kurds were one people

Ato Dakheel explains that the Kurds a long time ago were one people.

– All Kurds were Yazidis. The Kurdish flag also testifies this. The Kurdish flag has a sun in the middle. The sun is an important symbol for us Yazidis.

Ato says that Kurdistan has its own territory in Iraq.

– Kurdistan has its own president, prime minister and parliament, but belongs to Iraq.

Ato is very knowledgeable in this area and he knows his history well.

– Before the First World War and even during the war many wars against religions took place. The Ottoman Empire wanted everyone to become Muslims. Many became Muslims after the First World War. Istanbul was the capital of the Ottoman Empire, which during the First World War was a friend of Germany. England and France wanted to divide the Ottoman Empire to make it weaker. After the First World War, the borders between Iraq, Syria, Iran and Turkey were drawn in the middle of Kurdistan.

The Kurdish flag

Some brief facts about the history of Kurdistan

1922: A Kurdish man in Turkey, Sheikh Said, fought against the Ottoman Empire. He was executed by Turkey in 1925.

1942: Mustafa Barzani, a Kurdish man from Iraq, wanted to make a revolution. His son Massoud Barzani is now president of the Kurdish part of Iraq. Along with an army of Peshmerga soldiers, Mustafa Barzani fought against the Iraqi state for an independent Kurdistan.

1946: Qazi Muhammad, a Kurd from Iran, fought against the Iranian state with the help of the Soviet Union. He was executed by the Iranian state.

Ato Dakheel explains that it was with the help of the United States that the Kurds in 1991 got their own region in Iraq where the Kurds could almost decide themselves. He further explains that the people of Iraq have suffered many wars.

On August 2, 1990, the Gulf War started when Iraq invaded Kuwait.

On March 20, 2003, the United States invaded Iraq by attacking the capital Baghdad with aircraft and missiles.

March 16, 1988 – Halabja Massacre

March 16, 1988 was another tragic day in world history.

“30 years ago, Saddam Hussein's regime used the chemical weapons mustard gas and nerve gas to murder the Kurds in Halabja as part of his genocidal campaign, the so-called Al-Anfal Campaign, against Kurds. On March 16, 1988, 5,000 Kurds were murdered and more than 10,000 were estimated to be severely injured by the attack. Several thousand Kurds were reported to have died after the attack as a result of various complications, diseases and birth defects. The gas attack in Halabja was one of forty issued against Kurds during Saddam Hussein’s time where a total of 182,000 Kurds are estimated to have been murdered as part of the Al-Anfal Campaign. Even today, the survivors suffer from the traumatic experiences of that day, but also from the health problems that these chemical weapons brought. Experts have demonstrated that dangerous mustard gas still exists today in some of the city's cellars,” the International Women's Association for Peace and Freedom (Internationella Kvinnoförbundet för Fred och Frihet, IKFF) wrote on its blog on March 16, 2018.

Escaped to the Sinjar Mountain

Ato grew up in the small village of Hardan in northern Iraq. He says that there is very beautiful nature in Kurdistan. Water and mountains.

Ato went to school for nine years in Iraq. He says that the teachers beat the students if, for example, they forgot a school assignment. He also says that Yazidis could not go anywhere outside the area.

– It happened many times that they kidnapped Yazidis and demanded a ransom, Ato says.

Ato lived in the village of Hardan until August 2014 when his family and many other Yazidi families fled up to the Sinjar Mountain.

– We were on the Sinjar Mountain for eight days without food and without water. We had to eat leaves, Ato continues.

Kurdish military, PKK, came to the mountain and opened a small road.

– We walked to Syria. There were about 500,000 people. There were children and there were women. Many cried. We slept in the field.

Ato draws a map to show how the borders go through Kurdistan. The countries of Iraq, Iran, Turkey and Syria are close to each other. He draws the city of Shingal, which ISIL attacked on August 3, 2014. He shows on the map how the family moved over the mountains.

Worked 12 hours a day in Turkey

Ato draws a map to show how the borders go through Kurdistan. The countries of Iraq, Iran, Turkey and Syria are close to each other. He draws the city of Shingal, which ISIL attacked on August 3, 2014. Then he draws the province of Duhok, which borders on Turkey in the north and Syria in the west. Through the province of Duhok, Ato and his family – and about 400 other Yazidi families – were able to go to Turkey and a large mountain.

– There, the Turkish military took us. We slept under the trees for four days. Then we got help from Kurds from Turkey. In Shernak we lived in a school for 16 days. We were 16 people in two rooms. For us Yazidis it was extra difficult in Turkey.

Ato says the family moved to the city of Siirt, where they lived for a year and a half.

– We worked 12 hours a day, every day of the week. I was digging in the ground for one dollar a day. We lived 16 people in an apartment with two rooms and a kitchen.

Boat trip to Greece

Ato explains that his aunt, who lived in Småland in Sweden, called and told Ato’s dad that she could help one person. Ato says that he has two older brothers and two younger brothers. Ato’s father did not want to leave the family in Turkey. Together, the family decided that Ato should go to Sweden.

– I was scared and worried, Ato says. I went to Istanbul with some friends. We stayed there for a few days. From there we went in a small inflatable boat. 64 people. Children, women, elderly, young people ... We would go to Greece, one to two hours boat trip across the sea. We couldn’t swim. The small children cried. The boat began to fill with water. We prayed to God many times, Ato says and clasps his hands.

Ato continues his story and says that they all arrived on the Greek island.

– The others who I travelled with in the boat hugged each other, but no one hugged me. Then I felt alone in the whole world.

Long journey through Europe

The journey went on to Athens, an 8 hours long journey in a large ship.

– Then we went by many buses to Macedonia. There were refugees from Syria, Afghanistan, Africa ... I was with a family. It was a mother, a father and two children. It was November and it was cold. We went by bus to Serbia, where we stayed for two or three days. We were outside all the time. Day and night. We couldn't buy food. We got some bread with butter and cheese.

Ato is very talkative and continues to tell the story about the long journey. The journey continued by bus through Croatia, Austria and Slovakia.

– In Austria we stayed for four days. We were outside all the time.

Ato ended up in a refugee camp in Germany. A cousin of Ato lived in Hamburg. The cousin wanted Ato to stay in Germany, but Ato had already decided; he was going to Sweden. Ato’s cousin helped Ato to the train station and onto a train to Copenhagen. The cousin explained that Ato had 30 minutes in Copenhagen to find the train which would go to Malmö in Sweden.

From one refugee camp to the other

Once in Copenhagen, Ato approached a man and asked for help. It turned out that the man was Kurdish and could speak Kurdish. The Kurdish man helped Ato to get onto the train that went to Malmö. Once in Malmö, November 26, 2015, Ato was taken to the police station. The police interrogated Ato about what he would do in Sweden and Ato replied that he was a refugee. Ato’s aunt came to Malmö to meet Ato, but first she was not allowed to meet him. After a few days, however, Ato came to his aunt in Småland.

The family who remained in Turkey thought that “we should live a better life or die” and decided therefore to go to Sweden. Ato’s mother, father, younger brother and younger sisters came to Sweden on December 12, 2015.

Ato’s older brothers, one 30 years old with four children and the other 25 years old and single, stayed in Turkey and came later to Greece.

– The EU decided that all Yazidis would move to Germany, Ato says. Therefore, my older brothers moved to Germany.

Ato and the family members who were now in Sweden moved from Småland to a refugee camp in Malmö.

– We were many who slept on the floor, Atos's mother interposes. She shed some tears.

A woman from the church helped the family

Later the family moved to another refugee camp between Lund and Hässleholm and then they were moved to another refugee camp in Hanöhus.

– Then we came to Listerlandet, Ato explains. We were eight people. Six of us stayed in one room. My brother Serbest and I lived in a cabin. We lived there for eight months. One day a woman who was active in the church came to the refugee camp. She wanted to integrate us into Swedish society. She wanted to integrate not only my family but everyone in the camp.

Ato says that the woman asked Ato questions.

– Then I could not speak Swedish or English at all. We had a neighbour who could speak English fluently who interpreted for us. The woman asked if I had signed up for school, but I had not. I didn’t know I had that opportunity in Sweden. The woman promised she would sign me up. This was a Friday. The woman said that “on Monday I’ll pick you up and we’ll go to school”.

On Monday, the woman drove Ato to a school in Sölvesborg. The whole family attended a church course in simple Swedish for new Swedes/refugees.

– From the beginning I was afraid of the church because ISIL in 2014 treated us so bad because we are Yazidis.

Ato Dakheel and Maria Veneke Ylikomi

Demonstration against war and for democracy

In 2016, Ato and his family came to Kungsmarken in Karlskrona in southern Sweden.

– We knew almost no one, Ato explains. We called the woman from the church who made sure we got to meet a man from Kungsmarken Church. The Kungsmarken Church has helped us a lot.

Ato tells with a smile that he started a course at the Naval Museum in Karlskrona.

– There I got to learn Swedish and we learned history. We participated in a competition with the museum, a competition between several museums in Sweden. The Naval Museum won the competition and we went to Stockholm to receive the award.

It went well for Ato in the Swedish school and he quickly completed a nine years’ (!) study plan.

– In June I got all the grades, Ato says happily, explaining that it meant a lot to him.

Ato had the luck to go to India on a school trip.

– We were 2 students out of 300 who went to India. I gave a lecture in India, Ato says with enthusiasm.

Ato came to the Swedish Parliament and met the Swedish prime minister Stefan Löfven. At the wall in the Dakheel family’s living room, there is a portrait of Ato together with the prime minister.

– We learned in school about the different parties and what they want.

In October 2019 Ato Dakheel led a demonstration in Karlskrona together with a friend. It was a short time after Turkey entered with soldiers into the Kurdish area of ​​Rojava. The messages from the Kurdish demonstration were clear against war and for democracy.

When asked whether Ato feels welcome in Sweden or if he in any way feels discriminated, Ato answers that this is a difficult question.

– It depends on different people. When we demonstrated we appeared in an article in the newspaper. Then there was one woman who wrote “Go home and help instead of complaining here”. Then I didn't really feel welcome.

"Do anything but do not kill people. Do not use weapons," says Ato Dakheel.

Ato's clear message: “Do not kill people. Do not use weapons.”

Ato has a clear message that he would like to convey:

– Do anything but do not kill people. Do not use weapons. I hope that women and children in the Middle East will enjoy more freedom. Not a dictator who decides everything. Women should have time for themselves. I will fight for the rights of women and children throughout my life.

In the summer of 2019, Ato Dakheel founded the Kurdish Democratic Association in Karlskrona. On the question of how Ato wants the Kurdish Democratic Association to develop, he answers:

– Freedom and democracy. We should all help each other. Everyone is equal.

"I hope that women and children in the Middle East will enjoy more freedom," says Ato Dakheel.

Ato Dakheel in the pulpit of the Swedish Parliament.

Article by Maria Veneke Ylikomi, Goodwill Ambassador Foundation, 30 November 2019

Sunday, July 10, 2016

Danny Glover Denounces Racism as Afrophobia

Goodwill Ambassador Danny Glover calls out racism, Afrophobia in the Americas

Danny Glover attends the Special Meeting of the
General Assembly. UN Photo/Amanda Voisard

30 June 2016 – The international community must increase its commitment to fighting Afrophobia and discrimination against people of African descent, United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) Goodwill Ambassador and actor Danny Glover has said, speaking during the International Decade for People of African Descent.

In a recently released message, Mr. Glover, who advocates on behalf of the estimated 200 million people of African descent living in North and South America, urged national and multilateral partners in the Americas to ensure that policies work with and in support of this often marginalized group.

“The three UN themes – respect, justice, development – must be utilized as an interrelated guide,” Mr. Glover said, adding that the successes of the Afro-descendent populations help to guarantee successes of the entire society.

In an interview with the UN News Centre, Mr. Glover, an African-American whose grandparents were born in the 1890s in the southern United States city of Louisville, Georgia, spoke personally about race and the segregation of the United States.

“One of the moral underpinnings of my childhood was that my mother would always say that she was eternally grateful for her mother and father because she didn’t pick cotton in September, she went to school in September,” he said, a decision that allowed her to graduate from college in 1942.

These familial experiences are what anchor Mr. Glover, who growing up in San Francisco, California, did not attend a segregated school, in his work on behalf of the UN and the International Decade for People of African Descent which runs through 2024.

“I would hope that there would be a place within this period for specific projects,” he said. Listen below to the types of political projects for which Mr. Glover is advocating.

Today, there are at least 40 million people in the United States alone who identify themselves as being of African descent, and many of them are among the poorest socio-economic groups, according to the UNICEF Goodwill Ambassador.

Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon has said that people of African descent are “among those most affected by racism. Too often, they face denial of basic rights such as access to quality health services and education.”
The promotion and protection of human rights of people of African descent has been a priority concern for the UN. The Durban Declaration and Programme of Action, agreed to at the 2001 World Conference, acknowledged that people of African descent were victims of slavery, the slave trade and colonialism, and continue to be victims of their consequences.

“Wherever we are, whether we’re in Brazil or Colombia or Ecuador, we are decedents of the transatlantic slave trade,” Mr. Glover said. “Whether we’re in the Caribbean or here [the United States] or Canada, we can trace our identity to that moment in human history when essentially we became the capital of the new system that came into existence.”

Listen to Mr. Glover speak more about the shared experience between people of African descent in the clip below.

The International Decade for People of African Descent, proclaimed by the General Assembly in resolution 68/237, provides a framework for the UN, Member States, civil society and all other relevant actors to join together with people of African descent and take effective measures for the implementation of the programme of activities in the spirit of recognition, justice and development.

In addition, the Decade is meant to underline the important contribution made by people of African descent to international societies, promote their full inclusion, and combat racism, radical discrimination, xenophobia and related intolerance.

Mr. Glover said the timing of the Decade is particularly important given the ongoing events in his home country of the United States.

“[At] this time in history, you not only have to say more but do more,” he said. “We have an opportunity as we talk about all the things happening internally in the United States, as we begin to look at the present industrial complexity in the United States, the justice system of the United States, the lack of youth employment, violence against young black men and black women, all those things resonate here are a microcosm of what is happening in the rest of the world.”

Republished from News Source: UN News, Goodwill Ambassador Danny Glover calls out racism, Afrophobia in the Americas.

Tuesday, June 7, 2016

Green Holidays and International Observances

World what day? Today, are you sure?

Every culture has traditions and celebrations which to many may seem odd or strange especially to the casual observer, but not to the world or global citizen. To them our own traditions also probably seem odd when we attach our traditions and history to them. Celebrations, observances, anniversaries, and the seasons all bring cause to celebrate, remember or observe different days of the calendar and solar year.

Girls dressed in traditional clothes and with their faces and bodies painted in white dance during the official opening of a school for rangers and the environment, at the opening of the World Environment Day activities in Menongue, in the province of Cuando-Cubango, Angola, Photo: UNEP

With these celebrations, observances and festivities come those people wishing to collaborate, participate, remark and reflect on creating a better life and bringing human purpose full circle to the ideals being presented. Among those leading and promoting these events are goodwill ambassadors from all walks of life representing the ideals and goals of these many international global and local observances from Africa to Asia and from Australia to America.

International Observances

Currently there are over 100 different 'official' international observances that are presented around the world each year covering a whole range topics and ideals, many of them are on the United Nations official calendar. Their purposes are broadly diverse and developed to bring attention to things in our human civilization that are vital to our well-being and the well-being of our societies. These events cover topics like hunger, war, inequality, climate change, forests, water, trademarks, social groups, cooperation and many others are all presented to give people around the world a general knowledge education about both the plight, pain and the prosperity of our human condition.

Most of the international observances are all based on good causes and ideals, some people may be critical of some of them but that may because there are politicians involved in creating some of them; however in general because they are coming from organizations that are not subject to nation-state politics they focus on the real problems and ideals we need to make the world a better place.

In 2009 when Globcal International began we found that promoting these international observances was a great way to bring attention and social interest to these observances within the social media community. As an experiment to take poll results we developed over a dozen different pages on Facebook so we could use them in training exercises and to conduct demographic studies. Since then we have passed the torch to others while we remained with some lesser known days that are convenient to our forum like Biodiversity Day, Earth Day and Forest Day which both complement and strengthen our online efforts with the United Nations and the Sustainable Development Goals program.

Still Celebrating Ideals

Globcal International and our Goodwill Ambassadors Corps have maintained a page that we call International Observances where one of our ambassadors, the Honorable Maria Veneke-Ylikomi maintains several posts each week that focus on both official and non-official observances that are popular on a global scale. Though it is not as well followed as it once was (on Facebook you need to pay to have the features we once enjoyed) we still maintain it as a way to advise members and friends of ongoing events.

Over the weekend we celebrated World Environment Day which has now turned out to become one of the more remarkable observances of the year around the world and a great introduction point for communities around the world in need of environmental programs and awareness especially in light of the new climate change agenda. Tomorrow we will celebrate World Oceans Day.

Good for Education

Children need activities that expand their consciousness, build their minds and prepare them for the future. Personally I remember all good times in making up an Earth Day poster in 1970 when our class marched through the community to commemorate the occasion, they are very fond memories which has led me through my life to do what I can to make the world a better place.

Children playing outdoors at an international summer community (Friendship Day, July 30th) for
youngsters 9-18, near Bedford, Virginia, United States. UN Photo/John Isaac

Today the ideal of schools is mostly the same, basically reading, writing and arithmetic. Surprisingly and much to my satisfaction many of these international observances are green (environmental) but many people have complained about the new emerging educational system because it differs so much from the indoctrinate nationalist education that they had when they were children.

The activities of saving dolphins, tigers, oceans, equalizing women, eradicating poverty, remembering our past, and honoring children are far from the ideals my baby-boomer generation celebrated, after examining the curriculum however I think the themes presented are much more fun and educational than teaching children about dead presidents and revolutionary heroes to boost national pride. The ideals we have evolved for the educational systems allow children today to respect diversity and prepare them for a future that free of polarizing ideals and for the most part politically and religiously neutral.

What about Traditional Days?

On the lighter side there are long-term traditions that we hold close to our hearts are not counted in this mix because they are rooted in regional or religious custom rather than logic or necessity, and today do not hold much substance within the reality of our existence. Holidays like Christmas, Ramadan and Hanukah are respected based in socially just freedom and today can only be promulgated by lifestyle or belief systems than necessity. Now beginning in 2016 it will be against the law to promote such holidays publicly or in the school system because of the diverse make-up of our populations today.

I was once among these people who held in high regard days like Christmas and Thanksgiving at least until I moved away from the United States, today I still enjoy preparing grand feasts and organizing celebrations but now I create holidays based on the occasion of spontaneous events or reaping a harvest, this is much how the indigenous peoples of the Amazon celebrate. I really don't miss these days personally, but I bet if I were to travel to my family home and see some snow on the group I would probably break down and come to tears for all the fond memories I hold in my heart.

Explore All of the Days

Share this article with your friends, encourage them to adopt a new global calendar that brings their awareness and consciousness to a whole new level. Explore all the days by visiting the links we are sharing here to give life a greater purpose as an ambassador of ideals, compassion and knowledge. For more information and to learn what you can do follow these links on Wikipedia, there are others that link to these based on region and other purposes.Have fun, have a holiday or celebration today.

International observances
List of commemorative days
Awareness days
List of environmental dates

Thursday, October 1, 2015

Social Media Integrity with the Global Goals

Professionalize your Social Media Profile for Transparency

New days, innovations, and ideals are ahead for us all as the world embraces and comes to grip with the new United Nations' Global Goals (SDG)s that promise to change humanity and the world-view. Consider the fact that we are going to end poverty, alleviate hunger, and change the world to create the equality we all want around the world. Now is the time to adapt!

The conversion will be in many ways abrupt, well-controlled, orderly, stubborn, and exhausting, but will involve a high-degree of transparency. This change must involve transparency because if trust and integrity become an issue there will be a disaster. Facebook, Google, LinkedIn, YouTube, and many other Internet based enterprises are already directly involved with the globalization of local micro-economies and their integration with the macro or global economic system; they would probably be indirectly involved anyway whether or not they support the United Nations SDGs or not.

Using the Social Media to Create Trust and Transparency

The social media will play a big role in updating our world to comply with the 17 Sustainable Development Goals, SDGs, or Global Goals that were signed last week by world leaders at the Sustainable Development Summit in New York. Now nations fear losing their sovereignty while people gain more control their personal human rights and over the destiny of the planet within the guidelines to meet the goals. This will all be done using the Internet (super-connected world) to govern the rule of law and monitor progressive development within the nations. Its our understanding international transparency teams are also being used to eliminate corruption in governments.

Social media and online personal profiles will play a gigantic role in the implementation of these Global Goals. The protagonists of the great development will be expected to be transparent in the delivery of their work as social entrepreneurs and members of international organizations otherwise the public, donors, and other organizations will not be able to trust to receive their funds and execute projects.

Focus on your Presentation

Create a well-elaborated social media profile that people can find using Google and Bing search engines. You can create profiles on Google+, Facebook, LinkedIn, XING, VK, and other social media platforms that are compliant with the new emerging Internet Governance under RDFa and

A good social media profile allows people to reach you by email or through your profile directly, include your place of employment, where your currently reside and your home location. It will include your personal photograph or resemblance. Your social media posts should be adjusted so everyone can see your work, if you use Facebook or other networks for family and personal purposes too, you can adjust your posts.

Goodwill ambassadors working with Globcal International are encouraged to keep a public figure profile that provides a transparent curriculum vitae of their life's work, and expect that all others responsible for handling funds derived through donations, philanthropy, or other bequests do the same if they work with non-governmental organizations (NGO)s, with government, foundations, or with corporations. Transparency best practices start with the person working within the NGO or corporation not under the political protection of a corporate body and reputation.

There are a great number of other organizations, corporations, and Internet social entrepreneurs that are jumping on the bandwagon to take advantage of the 176 trillion dollars being spent by the World Bank to realize the SDGs over the next 15 years to create "the World We Want." Many players are very skeptical because they know that there is too much work involved of value from our former social generation that needs to be adapted so the matrix or system does not come tumbling down upon itself; so it may be some time before we fully understand how these 17 goals will be pursued and realized.

Best Practices and Business

Using the Internet, organizations like Globcal International, the Rand Corporation, the Council on Foreign Relations and other think tanks (public policy institutes) are examining and analyzing the world playing field with the advent of the UN's new Global Goals and Post-2015 Agenda we are prepared to adapt and understand a global rule of law involving ecological integrity with other nations and as it seems corporations. 

Directly ahead we can expect to see a great degree of sovereign, national, and corporate imperial policy manipulation to maintain control and ties over land, mining, and exploitable natural resource interests. Utilizing the ideals of best practices and transparency (as stipulated) corporations and non-governmental organizations established under the jurisdictional laws of the United States of America will have both the most to gain and most to lose when it comes time to adapt, beginning now to the Post-2015 Agenda.

Transparency is the Key

It is our understanding as advocates of goodwill, the Global Goals, fair-globalization, and social reform will greatly depend on the social media based on the design and development integrity involving Internet RDFa, those who operate quietly in the shadows as unknown or global corporate citizens will be required step-up and show themselves so that other non-corporate global citizens can believe in them and trust them. Be understood without the corporate veil, people trust people not corporations, it would be unnatural to trust a non-human corporate person. With the Global Goals the system of trusting governments, corporations, and non-profits became much more difficult or challenging for everyone involved, but much better too!

Friday, September 25, 2015

Pope Francis, a Goodwill Ambassador for Mother Earth

Pope Francis, Champion of Life on Earth

Equality, eliminating climate change, defending the poor, stopping discrimination and re-examining our place and purpose on the planet as humans, the Pope. It's about time!

"Any harm done to the environment is harm to humanity.” -Pope Francis

NEW YORK: Pope Francis addressed the largest gathering of world leaders to ever converge in the United Nations headquarters in Manhattan today, where he put climate action at the heart of his call for social justice, sustainable development and global peace.

Pope Francis, Time Person of the Year

Speaking before the pope’s address at the UN General Assembly,Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon said Pope Francis’ visit to the US will inspire the global community to act on climate to “ensure a life of dignity for all”. He said: “Like the United Nations, you are driven by passion to help others.” Pointing to the pope’s recent speeches on economic development and the environment, he said: “Your visit coincides with the Agenda to Adopt the UN Sustainable Development Goals, but that is no coincidence. […] Climate change is a principal challenge facing the world. This message is critical as we head toward Paris in December.”

In his address which was watched live around the world, Pope Francis called to improve the imbalance of power to tackle climate change, due its impact on the world’s most vulnerable. “We human beings are part of the environment and believe in communion with it. And the environment itself has ethical limits which humans must actively acknowledge and respect.” He continued “Any harm done to the environment is harm to humanity.”

“Every living creature has an intrinsic value its existence, its life, its beauty and its dependence with other creatures. We Christians together with the other religions, believe the universe is the fruit of a loving decision by the Creator […] but man is not authorized to abuse it, must less he is authorized to destroy it.

“In all religions the environment is fundamental good. Misuse and destruction of the environment are also accommodated by a relentless process of exclusion. A selfish and boundless thirst for power and material and prosperity leads to other misuse of available natural resources and the exclusion of the weak and disadvantaged.”

Pope Francis stressed the importance of the UN SDGs and the upcoming global climate talks in Paris, COP21.“Adoption of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development at the world summit which opens today is an important sign of hope. I am confident that the Paris conference on climate change will secure fundamental and effective agreements. Solemn commitments however, are not enough even though they are a necessary step toward solutions.”

He concluded by affirming that human development “must continue to rise on the foundation of respect for the sacredness of every human life.”

The Rev. Dr. John Chryssavgis, Archdeacon of the Ecumenical Patriarchate commented: "People applaud this pope as being more personable or else more sociable; others dismiss him as being too controversial or even as too political. What people fail to understand is that is solely and exclusively scriptural and evangelical.

"Pope Francis “gets” it. He can make the connections that so many people either deliberately omit or unwittingly overlook. He is able to connect the dots between faith and life, between economy and ecology, and especially between poverty and pollution. That’s why what he says matters; and that’s why what he says hurts!"

#CWNYC 2015

Climate Week NYC is a key event in the international calendar that brings together leading governments, investors, businesses, innovators and opinion formers. The Climate Group launched Climate Week NYC in 2009, and has acted as the secretariat since its inception.

Host to more than 100 affiliate events from September 21-28, Climate Week NYC 2015 is the collaborative space for climate events in support of the UN Summit to adopt the Post-2015 Development Agenda.

Climate Week NYC 2015 is supported by BT Group, Siemens, Procter & Gamble, Nike, SkyPower, SolarCity, CBRE Group, and Bank of the West - BNP Paribas; and the We Mean Business coalition members: BSR, The B Team, CDP, Ceres, The Climate Group, The Prince of Wales’s Corporate Leaders Group and WBCSD. | @ClimateWeekNYC | #CWNYC

By Clare Saxon Ghauri, the Climate Group  Image by Alfredo Borba

Friday, May 8, 2015

Nepal's Goodwill Ambassadors

The whole world felt the earthquake in Nepal on April 25th. The members of Globcal International insisted that the Goodwill Ambassadors of the World team to develop a special project to assist there, which we have. As an author and key person in the development I was obligated to perform extensive research about Nepal along with some other members, it has been 2 weeks since the quake now. However before we launch our project we want to share an article about the Nepalese people who have been regarded as some of the most generous, cooperative and best international volunteers in the world. The article was published in the Nepal Times on February 23, 2015, exactly 8 weeks before the earthquake.

Goodwill ambassadors

by Hemlata Rai, Nepal Times on February 23, 2015

Nepal is the third largest contributor to the UN volunteer programme.

If you thought only Nepali soldiers and policemen risked their lives maintaining peace across the world, think again. Apart from the blue berets and troops serving in armies elsewhere, Nepal also has an excellent record of volunteerism-over a hundred mid-career Nepali professionals are currently serving the war fronts as United Nation’s Volunteers (UNV).

UNV is the volunteer arm of the UN system, extending hands-on assistance for peace and development in nearly 150 countries. Created by the UN in 1970 and administered by the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP), UNV works through UNDP country offices to promote volunteerism around the world. Thousands of volunteers from over 140 countries, with extensive experience in over 100 professional fields, serve with the UNV each year.

It may sound surprising but little Nepal was the fifth largest source of UNVs last year, with 113 Nepalis posted at different locations around the world. UNVs from the Philippines, Spain, Belgium and Japan outnumbered Nepalis last year, but this year the UNV Office in Kathmandu hopes that Nepal’s position as a source of volunteers may rise to the third position. In the first six months of this year alone, 58 Nepalis have already been posted overseas. Forty of them are in tough Kosovo, half of them working as civil administrators and the rest as registration supervisors.

“The performance of Nepali UNVs even under difficult and risky situations is superb. They have earned an international reputation for their work. Demands for Nepali volunteers have gone up,” says Simon Forrester, UNV Programme Officer in Kathmandu. Nepalis are working specifically in three areas as UNVs-humanitarian relief, technical assistance and short-term observatory jobs. And it is long-term technical assistance that hosts the largest number of Nepali volunteers.

Returning UN volunteers in Kathmandu offer various explanations for the good performance of Nepalis overseas. However, they all agree on one good reason-a “positive attitude and sincerity” towards their work. (If you are wondering why not here, wait, they explain that as well.) The other reasons cited are their ability to quickly adapt to an alien culture, dedication to duty and the encouragement and appreciation they receive for their work. “Here your contribution is not appreciated. If you are posted outside the valley, you are forgotten, and opportunities for professional growth are scarce if you consent to work in remote areas,” said Bimala Maskey, acting president of the Returned United Nations Volunteers Association of Nepal (RUNVAN).

Maskey worked in Botswana 1995-97 as principal teacher for the in-service education wing of the Botswana’s Ministry of Health. After retiring as joint secretary from the Ministry of Health in Nepal, Maskey was rather unhappy with her job at a government-run vocational training centre, CTEVT, when the UNV offer came along. “The job as a UNV was an exciting substitute to my work at CTEVT. Working as a UNV brings you encouragement and recognition,” she says. If that is the way Nepali volunteers feel about working abroad, UN volunteer in Nepal Kristiina Mikkola from Finland echoes a similar sentiment: “Professionally my duties here [in Nepal] are very exciting and rewarding.”

Many mid-career technical professionals use the programme as a platform to explore their abilities in a different social and working environment in a foreign country. “I have mixed feelings working in Kosovo. I miss my country and family dearly but on the other hand it gives me an inner satisfaction that I am working for a mission to make this place better for its citizens,” says Rajesh Aryal, now serving in Pristina. For some, a short-term UNV position offers an exciting break from monotonous bureaucratic or administrative jobs within the government machinery. Others accept it as an opportunity for international exposure that can turn a stepping-stone for further personal and professional progress. And yet for others, the most attractive part of working as a UNV is the money.

Former bureaucrat Bishnu Lal Maharjan earned about Rs 5,000 as salary, but as a UNV in Lesotho as Assistant Expert at the Ministry of Commerce and Industries between 1980-82 and as Trade Promotion Specialist later in 1985-87, he was paid $800 (Rs 50,000 approximately). “With high salaries and low cost of living, a position as a UNV offers an opportunity for savings. When you are economically secure your mind is freed for creativity and you can devote yourself to your work more sincerely,” Maharjan said, citing economics as one of the reasons why Nepali UNVs do well in countries like Lesotho than back home. “Most of the time Nepali professionals are busy moonlighting to support their families. How can you expect sincerity and creativity from them when their minds are so preoccupied with earning for their families,” he adds.

The fact that Nepali professionals perform better overseas sure speaks volume about the working environment back home. The good news is that Nepalis are earning an international reputation for their efficiency and professional excellence. Such performance, and not only by Nepali volunteers, has not gone unnoticed. The UNV programme has caused the UN to work for greater South-South volunteerism rather than foist development experts from industrialised nations on underdeveloped ones.

Republished from the Nepali Times.

Saturday, April 18, 2015

Goodwill Ambassadors Everywhere!

Where can you find Goodwill Ambassadors?

If you are looking for an ambassador to help or assist in a community event, fundraiser, an exposition or any other promotional activity involving goodwill you should not have to look very far; Globcal International began an international program encompassing social responsibility, sustainable development, international cooperation, and now global citizenship beginning this April to serve the formation of open-source start-up specializing in promoting social benevolence, meritorious international service, and philanthropy. Global has established online network developments that work with the social media, crowdfunding, and soon with micro-finance.

Globcal International Goodwill Ambassadors

Globcal is Growing

The organizational format of Globcal is that of an international cooperative that has been developed under United Nations guidelines and recommendations. The organization has been reformatted to be politically benign (non-state) agenda. Since 2013 outreach developments began and are underway internationally in Belize, the Netherlands, Mexico, London, Sweden, Switzerland, Venezuela, Bolivia, and New York City in the US. There are also projects in the planning stages for new specialized ecological sustainability educational programs in Kenya, Cambodia, Malawi, Bangladesh, and Nepal. The organization prides itself on integrity, neutrality, and transparency.

The primary difference between Globcal International and most other organizations is that it is not incorporated (registered) under the legal jurisdiction of any of the nation-states or under the United Nations itself. Instead the organization is established as an offshore international charitable foundation with the ability to become recognized in all of the world's 219 countries, 1000+ nations, and over 2500+ metropolitan areas considered to be part of today's new integral global ecosystem, the organization is like a ship at sea with many different flags. Globcal is currently in a two-year proving term status with the UN to become eligible to be recognized as an INGO to go on to begin to seek Permanent Observer status.

Recognize all the People

Globcal also recognizes independently each culture of the world in addition to the supreme authority of the state; we also recognize indigenous nations, the undeclared peoples, and migratory nations under their own capable powers under special treaties. Opportunities are available to, from, or for a nation as an independent global advocate or goodwill ambassador through the program, you may qualify if you wish to understand the Globcal International philosophy.

Because the organization is a politically neutral, nonreligious, nonprofit cooperative and an international non-governmental organization it is capable of being admitted into any country under unilateral treaties or cooperation agreements with each state, city, or independent nation as a guest relative to international projects being developed. The volunteer and professional staff have all agreed to be and remain politically non-aligned and not to engage the use their personal religious preferences in their presentation as ambassadors.

All of the organization's founders conceded that to be completely non-discriminatory they needed to be neutral because alignment with nation-state policies or religious institutions could bias their agenda, the United Nations beholds similar guidelines. The organization up until now has been funded primarily by its board of commissioners who have established five practical international projects involving the concept of goodwill to found our model.

Today Globcal International has Goodwill Ambassadors that work as Google Ambassadors, Facebook Ambassadors, and now Indiegogo e³ Ambassadors who all collectively perform campaigns together in the social media as global advocates to promote sustainability, social responsibility, and matters dealing with education of people living within our global ecosystem. The principles are based under a critical examination and understanding of best practices, mutual agreement, equality, and fairness in our best sense; in brief 'good will' or 'goodwill.' You can find our members throughout the social media.

More Goodwill Ambassadors than Ever Before

Now most recently the organization has noticed there are new agendas that have spontaneously developed and cropped-up at various levels of professionalism and formality involving ambassadors from over 250 international and nongovernmental organizations around the world many well-known to the social media; most of them have been identified as goodwill ambassadors in one sense or another. Some were already there but not yet using the social media and others are modeling from our development.

Evolving from social media development of Globcal's goodwill pioneering effort since 2008 are Everyday Ambassadors, Internations Ambassadors, Peace Ambassadors, Interfaith Ambassadors, and Indigenous Unity Ambassadors. This is great in itself and shows that goodwill administered professionally goes a long way and has great potential to influence others.

Most recently as well there has been a sharp rise in the rehabilitation and promotion of UNICEF Ambassadors, UNESCO Ambassadors, and Messengers of Peace; also the new Global Advocates that are now being promoted by the United Nations. The United Nations has been promoting the ideal of goodwill diplomacy since they began with Danny Kaye when the Universal Declaration of Human Rights set the stage in 1948. Since then the United Nations has developed goodwill embassies to promote more than half of its international divisions, they have recognized nearly 1000 goodwill ambassadors over the years and currently have around 400 active.

Over 300,000 Goodwill Ambassadors in the United States

In the United States a new trend emerged several years ago among many US state governors to develop new goodwill ambassadors for their states, they adopted an ideal that originated in Kentucky to make Kentucky Colonels their official goodwill ambassadors. Over 40 states have adopted a similar practice; they award or bestow honorary titles of different types to civilians and visitors recognized for their particular deeds.

Some of the awards include Arkansas Traveler, Tennessee Colonel, Indiana Sagamore of Wabash, Illinois Order of Lincoln, Delaware Order of the First State, and Nebraska Admiral among many others have alternative programs today that help boost the state's reputation for tourism, business, and development.

The 'tradition of honor' began in 1819 when the Commonwealth of Kentucky began the awarding honorary commissions to its citizens for acts of heroism, great deeds, and accomplishments as Colonels. It is the duty of those who receive the title or use it to demonstrate goodwill toward the Commonwealth as an honorary member of its militia. Today this title still holds great precedence, honor, and is recognized around the world.

I understand there are some who travel to the different states to become involved in projects to be acknowledged with some of these awards. I know of at least three people who have collected 10 or more of these honors. When we attempted to do a survey we came to realize that there may be as many as 300,000 or many more individual goodwill ambassadors from all these states.

The International Goodwill Ambassadors Guild

Its very similar to the concept of Globcal International that all these ambassadors all around the world become recognized and exalted for their work, common interest, and general service to humanity and the environment through the International Goodwill Ambassadors Guild which was created in 2013.

So far the international honorary order of goodwill ambassadors has begun to recognize over 200 celebrity ambassadors which all serve as their role development models. Commissary appointment to the International Goodwill Ambassadors Guild is through its own standing members or its own foundation protectors and commissioners recognizing their fellow ambassadors who gain notice through the well-known international and local news media within a nation.

The International Goodwill Ambassadors Guild is responsible for providing its members with a membership card, an honorary commission certificate, and lifetime membership benefits as registrants. Similarly to the Honorable Order of Kentucky Colonels, membership in the Ambassadors Guild is an honorary matter and is awarded without cost. The organization is a tax-exempt non-profit organization which has a private membership roster. The Guild is not a secret society, but membership therein is a confidential matter between those who have been recognized with a commission. We can only cite the names of those who have chosen the more public side of life as notable public figures and celebrities who have agreed to serve as goodwill ambassadors for international organizations.

Goodwill Role Models

Celebrities like Angelina Jolie, Sean Penn, Forest Whitaker, Don Cheadle, Leonardo DiCaprio, Bill Clinton, Nicole Kidman, Giselle Bündchen, Katy Perry, Ian Somerhalder, Herbie Hancock, Nicholas Cage, Andrew Weil,, Paulo Coelho, Ricky Martin, Larry King, Ted Turner, and Bono were all recently nominated to the selection commission for their admiralty and extraordinary efforts as global advocates and exemplary change-makers through their personal goodwill activities. It will now be their role along with others who have received a commission to the Guild to designate future generations of recognized members.

Wangari Maathai, John McConnell, Garry Davis, and Nelson Mandela all well-know goodwill ambassadors are all cited in the 2013 charter of the Guild posthumously as inspirational and acknowledged supporters of Globcal International's work.

In 2015 the Guild has also began to officially include indigenous nations and culturally defined peoples, they have already recognized several leaders in the Amazon and the Andes who travel internationally as goodwill ambassadors for their tribal ethnic villages, communities, and settlements. The indigenous groups that are members of Globcal and part of the Indigenous Unity Movement shall designate these goodwill ambassadors to our organization who use the International Indigenous Unity Flag on their lands to demonstrate their alliance and solidarity as a global nationals.

Neutrality is Key

One of the primary characteristic requirements to qualify as a goodwill ambassador is to (support) want to see others do well, become prosperous, and live with individual personal dignity. Our purpose on earth is to live within human social systems that are mutually respected, peaceful, and co-existent among one another. In terms of some politics, nationalism, and religion this is impossible. Poverty often resulting in envy that is born by greed, corruption, unfair capitalism, and natural resource exploitation resulting in human rights abuses remain the biggest factors effecting human equality.

As the author of this article I know these facts all too well. I also learned that the hardest part about being a goodwill ambassador is dealing with those who show envy toward progressive goodwill work or cooperation usually from the political, corporate, or nationalist stance. Granted however it is very difficult for a nation to be non-discriminatory while protecting its borders; under our current system wealthy nation-states are forced to discriminate based on national origin and other factors to provide security, protect its banks, and protect the well-being of its residents.

Goodwill Standards

Contrary to what some may believe goodwill ambassadors are not 'whistle blowers' or 'defenders of justice,' the tactic of denouncing what is wrong with the world for goodwill ambassadors is taking the Gandhi approach, "be the change you want to see" or for us this means taking effective actions with proven methods or perhaps sometimes implementing theoretical solutions to solve problems; not spilling the beans, raising red flags, or inciting a mob scenes involving national, political, or religious ideals. Goodwill ambassadors advocate for what is right based on an unwritten universal understanding of an international community consciousness and awareness, their work revolves around the personal integrity they create and behold as individuals with upstanding regard for human equality.

Defining and delivering goodwill to others are topics that were formed long ago by great philosophers like Aristotle while discussing friendship and further defined by Kant through act utilitarianism.

The United Nations has developed treaties, declarations, and conventions to bring equality and fairness around the globe in all countries; despite this some countries and nations under rogue or unqualified democratic leadership continue to violate doctrines we have made our laws like the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, the more recent Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples and the Declaration on the Environment and Sustainable Development. Those who consider themselves to be goodwill ambassadors are all expected to hold firmly to these international conventions for the well-being of all the people on the planet.

Globcal International has a membership and training program for those interested in becoming Goodwill Ambassadors through our global citizenship program. Follow Globcal on Facebook, Google+, YouTube, Pinterest, Twitter, Instagram, Blogger, LinkedIn, Tumblr, Idealist, and Indiegogo.

Note to readers: I presented this blog article to answer the so many questions so many people have had about our programs and projects involving the Goodwill Ambassadors. In forthcoming articles I will be discussing more on these topics in dedicated articles, and other topics like global citizenship registration, freedom on the high seas, the benefits of offshore incorporation, how to get the most out of your philanthropy, how to stage and coordinate an international event, why becoming an expat or acquiring dual nationality can benefit you, how you can gain international benefits through offshore charitable foundation patronage, and you can also learn more about our international personal credential and online personal verification software called e³.

This edition of our blog was posted to give full understanding to our current legal status as an organization after three years of redevelopment and reformation. Currently you may join Globcal International as a special associate member as a global citizen for an initial term of three years. Questions or inquiry about membership or further to the authors of this blog you may write to

By David J. Wright, Executive Officer for Globcal International

About the Author: Col. David Wright is one of several of the Globcal International co-founders, he works as a goodwill ambassador to deliver environmental and ecological solutions with innovative projects, he is the founder of Ecology Crossroads (est. 1994), he also works with projects in the Amazon with indigenous peoples. He serves as the organizational engineer for the Globcal International (CiNGO), a Cooperative International Non-Governmental Organization. Col. Wright has been recognized as a goodwill ambassador since 1990.

Monday, October 28, 2013

How GOOD are Goodwill Ambassadors?

Goodwill Ambassadors are Great

By Kristy Siegfried, IRIN Global

JOHANNESBURG, 28 October 2013 (IRIN) - Humanitarian professionals tend to cringe at the spectacle of khaki-clad celebrities handing out food rations to refugees in Sudan or singing nursery rhymes to orphans in Malawi, but there is no denying the global attention and resources that well-known personalities can bring to their chosen causes.

The UN has long recognized this potential. It started using celebrities to publicize its work and raise funds in 1954, with the appointment of American entertainer Danny Kaye as the UN Children’s Fund’s (UNICEF) first Goodwill Ambassador. The UN now has 183 Goodwill Ambassadors, and most international aid organizations have followed suit with their own celebrity ambassador programs.

But using actors, musicians and sports stars to convey messages about potentially complex development issues has its pitfalls. Recently, the US publication People Magazine ran an article about singer Christina Aguilera’s “emotional” trip to “war-torn” Rwanda as an Ambassador Against Hunger for the UN World Food Program.

“The people of Rwanda touched me in a way I cannot express or put into words,” says Aguilera in the article. “They are in a place that needs our help, and I am so proud of the work that we are doing there."

Erroneously describing Rwanda as war-torn was probably the fault of the journalist rather than Aguilera, but the piece was lacerated by critics eager to mock the singer’s apparent naivety and the suggestion that a rapidly developing country like Rwanda needs an American celebrity to save it.

In his 2012 paper, Celebrity Diplomacy, London Metropolitan University’s Mark Wheeler described how the UN’s use of Goodwill Ambassadors has evolved from the “glamorous conformity” of stars like Danny Kaye and Audrey Hepburn to the more politically engaged and problematic Goodwill Ambassadors of the 1980s and 1990s, such as Richard Gere, who criticized the UN over its “non-recognition of Tibet”.

Under UN Secretary-General Kofi Anan, the use of Goodwill Ambassadors became “ubiquitous”, and by the end of his tenure in 2006 there were more than 400 of them.

“The difficulty is then it gets out of control,” Wheeler told IRIN. “The celebrity can actually act against your cause, like [singer] Geri Haliwell, who was brought in to talk about sexually transmitted diseases [for UNFPA] and ended up being completely out of her depth.”

Amplifying the Message

Marissa Buckanoff, who heads up UNICEF’s celebrity relations and partnerships division in New York, said that a six to 12 month “courtship period” is mandatory for celebrities before they are designated Goodwill Ambassadors for UNICEF. “It’s really a getting-to-know-each-other period,” she told IRIN. “It’s informing them, knowing their interests, keeping them updated on our work.”

“If you use the wrong person for the wrong issue, you’re setting them up to fail,” she added.

Marie-Vincente Pasdeloup, who manages Oxfam’s Global Ambassador program, agreed that celebrities need to be thoroughly briefed and informed about the purpose of a particular campaign before they make any public appearances on behalf of the organization. At that point, they are expected to convey core messages in their own words. “We have statements and press releases and blogs that are done by Oxfam’s core professionals. For the Ambassadors, it’s not the same messages we expect,” she told IRIN. “They’ll say, ‘I met these people, I was moved, I think it’s unjust and we need to act’, so it’s not like the nitty-gritty.”

"We have statements and press releases and blogs that are done by Oxfam's professionals. For the Ambassadors, it's not the same messages we expect"

She added that one of main goals of using celebrities was to reach an audience the organization would not normally reach and get them interested in an issue. “It’s an essential entry point for people,” she said. “Then we have policy papers and actions at all kinds of other levels.”

Social media has had a major impact on the ways celebrity ambassadors are able to spread the messages of the organizations they represent.

Pasdeloup gave the example of popular British rock band Coldplay, which is one of Oxfam’s Global Ambassadors. “They have over 11 million followers on Twitter, so if they tweet something about Oxfam, potentially 11 million people get that information on their smart phones,” she said.

Dangers of Simplicity

Sisonke Msimang, a South Africa-based social commentator and civil society insider, welcomed the way in which celebrities can “lend their reach to amplify our message”, but cautioned that “the danger is celebrities over-simply the complexities of the challenges because their audience is one that’s not used to dealing with nuance.”

“You want regular people to care about poverty, and the risk is that if they only care about it because Miley Cyrus does, it kind of diminishes the complexity of what we’re trying to do,” she told IRIN.

Other commentators have gone further, arguing that the star power celebrities lend to charitable causes diverts public attention from the real social and economic causes of poverty and inequality and promotes simplistic clichés about “basket case” Africa - a continent in need of Western charity and incapable of solving its own problems.

Photo: Simone D. McCourtie/World Bank
Bono's access to leaders like World Bank President Jim Yong Kim gives him more influence than many NGOs working on the ground.

The most scathing such criticisms are often reserved for the go-it-alone brand of celebrity activism made famous by U2 front-man Bono, who, notes Wheeler, has lobbied Western governments to implement debt relief for developing nations while being engaged in schemes to avoid paying his own band’s taxes.

Msimang described Bono as a cautionary tale for celebrities considering getting involved “in the policy side of things” or founding their own NGOs. “Your celebrity might give you access to important people, but if you don’t have the technical knowledge, the roots on the ground for you to broker meaningful agreements, you should just stop at raising money.”

The more respectful route, she argued, was for celebrities to align themselves with existing credible institutions. “When there’s no visible institution behind them, the suspicion is that it’s about grandstanding - for building the persona of Bono, for example,” she said.

Return on Investment?

Measuring the return on the investment that UN agencies and NGOs make into ambassador programs appears to be far from scientific. Although celebrities generally volunteer their time and often make personal donations, there are costs associated with managing ambassador programs and flying celebrities and photographers out to visit projects in Madagascar or Myanmar.

In 2006, the Joint Inspection Unit - an independent, external oversight body for the UN - conducted an evaluation of Goodwill Ambassador programs run by UN agencies. It recommended that the number of these ambassadors be “rationalized” and their services limited to a two-year period, “renewable subject to an end-of-term evaluation of the job carried out by the Goodwill Ambassador and its impact”. It also recommended more self-financing of travel by Goodwill Ambassadors who, in most cases, could readily afford it.

At UNICEF, which continues to maintain the largest Goodwill Ambassador program - with 30 global ambassadors, 13 regional ones and well over a 100 national ones - self-financing is encouraged, according to Buckanoff, but varies on a case-by-case basis.

Measuring the return on a celebrity trip to a UNICEF project was not precise, but Buckanoff said the amount of media coverage and social media interest generated, as well as funds raised, gave a strong indication. “It’s very cost-effective because we would never reach the numbers we reach if we didn't have them to help us,” she said.

Aziyadé Poltier-Mutal, communications partnerships manager with the UN Development Programme (UNDP), said her agency does annual reports to gauge the impacts of its nine international Goodwill Ambassadors.

“We have learned to be very strategic. We call on them only when we are sure we will receive a return on the investment of their time and energy,” she told IRIN.

A frequent criticism of celebrity activists has been that the most-high profile ones are invariably drawn from Europe and the US, reinforcing the perception that Africa needs to be saved by the West. An increasing number of Goodwill Ambassadors, particularly regional and national ones, are now drawn from developing countries, but in an era when traditional donor sources are drying up, “the kinds of resources that celebrities from the West have, particularly from the US, is pretty unparalleled,” said Msimang.

“When it’s done well, it has potential to be a win-win,” she added. “You raise the profile of a cause and you also add gravitas to celebrities who may or may not deserve it.”

Translation edited from British English to American English by the Globcal International Commission

Wednesday, April 18, 2012

Jolie Promoted from Goodwill Ambassador to Special Envoy for the UN

Angelina Jolie has become one of the Highest Diplomatic Officials in the World

Special Envoy Angelina Jolie (photo: Reuters)
GENEVA (AP) – After a decade of promoting refugee causes around the world, Angelina Jolie herself has been promoted.

The United Nations refugee agency has elevated the Hollywood star from being a goodwill ambassador to a special envoy, a role that will see her represent the organization to governments and diplomats.

It is the first time the U.N. refugee agency has named a special envoy, said its spokesman Adrian Edwards. Elsewhere in the global body such posts are usually reserved for career diplomats or retired politicians.

"Her work does go substantially beyond what we would typically see as being the normal role of a goodwill ambassador," Edwards told reporters in Geneva. "I don't think you need a rocket scientist to see the benefits that she is bringing in terms of the attention that she is getting for the plight of the world's displaced."

Jolie has jetted the world on behalf of the organization over the past ten years, making high-profile visits to refugee camps in Iraq, Haiti and Pakistan, among other places.

Apart from her time, Jolie has also given large personal donations to the organization, which relies entirely on voluntary contributions from governments, companies and individuals.

"She has donated substantially to refugees," said Edwards, noting that the actress/director won't receive any money for her role. "There is to my knowledge absolutely no connection between any donation of money and this role."

Jolie's new position will focus on the complex crises that result in the mass displacement of people, such as in Afghanistan and Somalia. In addition, on special occasions she will represent the U.N.'s High Commissioner for Refugees, Antonio Guterres.

"That can mean conveying messages to governments. It can mean conveying messages to other people and partners that we work with," said Edwards.

UNHCR works to help almost 35 million refugees and internally displaced people around the world. It was established to aid millions of Europeans displaced by World War II and has since become one of the world's most prominent humanitarian organizations.

Wednesday, March 21, 2012

Ambassador Hancock establishes International Jazz Day

World Now has an Official International Jazz Day

CHARLES J. GANS, Associated Press

NEW YORK (AP) — Ambassador Herbie Hancock believes what the world needs is a little jazz diplomacy.

"I hope that this day spreads the joy of spontaneous
creation that exists in this music. My feeling is that 
the jazz will be getting its due," -Herbie Hancock
The renowned jazz pianist's first major initiative since being named a UNESCO Goodwill Ambassador last July is to establish International Jazz Day to be held on April 30 of every year. That date coincides with the last day of what has been celebrated as Jazz Appreciation Month in the U.S.

This year's inaugural event — organized by the U.N. Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization in partnership with the Thelonious Monk Institute of Jazz, which Hancock chairs — will include star-studded concerts in Paris, New Orleans and New York as well as jazz-related events in several dozen countries from Algeria to Uruguay.

Hancock said he had little difficulty lining up support for his proposal from the 195-member U.N. cultural organization "because so many countries have been affected in crucial ways over the years by the presence of jazz."

"Jazz has been the voice of freedom for so many countries over the past half century," Hancock said in a telephone interview ahead of Tuesday's official announcement of International Jazz Day.

"This is really about the international diplomatic aspect of jazz and how it has throughout a major part of its history been a major force in bringing people of various countries and cultures together."

UNESCO Director-General Irina Bokova endorsed the initiative. In a statement, she said International Jazz Day is intended to bring together people all over the world "to celebrate and learn more about the art of jazz, its roots and its impact, and to highlight its important role as a means of communication that transcends differences."

The official kick-off will be on April 27 with an all-day program at UNESCO Headquarters in Paris that will include master classes, roundtable discussions and improvisational workshops. An evening concert will feature Hancock, Dee Dee Bridgewater, South Africa's Hugh Masekela and Brazil's Tania Maria, among others.

Hancock will begin the April 30 celebrations with a sunrise concert at New Orleans' Congo Square, the birthplace of jazz, which comes right after the first weekend of the city's Jazz and Heritage Festival.

The concert will present local jazz luminaries Terence Blanchard, Ellis Marsalis, Dr. Michael White, Kermit Ruffins and the Treme Brass Brand. Hancock plans to perform his funky standard "Watermelon Man" with high school students from around the world via an Internet link.

He then will fly to New York for a sunset all-star jazz concert for the international diplomatic corps at the U.N. General Assembly Hall to be hosted by Morgan Freeman, Robert DeNiro, Michael Douglas and Quincy Jones. The concert will be streamed live via the U.N. and UNESCO websites.

Its lineup already includes Hancock, Bridgewater, Wynton Marsalis, Wayne Shorter, Christian McBride, Esperanza Spalding, Jack DeJohnette, Derek Trucks, Susan Tedeschi and Jimmy Heath. The Americans will be joined by an international cast of musicians spanning different genres, including Richard Bona (Cameroon), Hiromi Uehara (Japan), Zakir Hussain (India),Angelique Kidjo (Benin), Lang Lang (China), and Romero Lubambo (Brazil).

Hancock sees his latest initiative as an extension of his 2010 CD, the double Grammy-winning "The Imagine Project," a globe-trotting, genre-mixing effort that featured a United Nations of pop and world music stars from 10 countries.

"I hope that this day spreads the joy of spontaneous creation that exists in this music," Hancock said. "My feeling is that jazz will be getting its just due."

Reposted from UNESCO Online: