UNHCR Goodwill Ambassadors



Goodwill Ambassadors are celebrity representatives of the UNHCR, who use their talent and fame to give a voice to refugees. They complement the work of the UNHCR staff around the world with their privileged access to the mass media and other resources. Goodwill Ambassadors communicate the message of respect and compassion for refugees to the general public in a uniquely powerful way; they capture massive public attention through public events, television shows, radio interviews and popular magazine articles. Goodwill Ambassadors also voice their support for refugees in meetings with world leaders, diplomats, teachers, national and community officials, as well as the public at large.

Most UN humanitarian agencies have Goodwill Ambassadors and the basic requirement for the post is a real desire to help people in need. They include royalty, musicians, actors of stage and screen, authors, sports stars, academics, style icons, photographers, aid workers and students. Some are former refugees, while others have come from privileged backgrounds but felt a calling to help others in need.

Goodwill Ambassadors began to be the public face of UNHCR in the early 1980s, when the actors Richard Burton and James Mason were first appointed to make media statements and public appearances for the refugee cause. Today, nine UNHCR Goodwill Ambassadors with very different professional and personal backgrounds use their talents and time to advocate for refugees: soprano Barbara Hendricks (1987), actor Adel Imam (2000), actress Angelina Jolie (2001), fashion designer Giorgio Armani (2002), singer and song-writer Julien Clerc (2003), musician George Dalaras (2006), actor Osvaldo Laport (2006), singer Muazzez Ersoy (2007), and TV presenter Jesus Vuzquez (2008). There are not many of them, but they help bring UNHCR to every corner of the world through their celebrity, popularity, influence and hard work.