Stories & Reflections
On Friday, 21 September – the International Day of Peace – United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon will honour Brazilian author Paulo Coelho and Her Royal Highness Princess Haya Bint Al Hussein of Jordan by designating them as United Nations Messengers of Peace. They will join four other Messengers of Peace, individuals who possess widely recognized talents in the fields of art, literature, music and sports, in helping to raise worldwide awareness of the ideals and activities of the United Nations.
Paulo Coelho, world renowned author of “The Alchemist”, uses his universal appeal to help underprivileged members of Brazilian society through his Paulo Coelho Institute, which he founded with his wife, Christina Oiticica. He is also an advocate of multiculturalism through his work with UNESCO as a Special Counselor for Intercultural Dialogues and Spiritual Convergences.
A political activist since his youth, Mr. Coelho will continue to promote intercultural dialogue and focus on the needs of children around the world as a Messenger of Peace. The native of Rio de Janeiro has enchanted readers from around the world for years and gathered numerous international awards for his works, which have been translated into more than 65 languages.
In selecting Mr. Coelho for this designation, the Secretary-General said, “Mr. Coelho’s “talent as a writer and his exceptional ability to touch the lives of men and women across boundaries and cultures would make him a powerful Messenger”.
While previously scheduled commitments will preclude his attendance at the International Day of Peace Observance, Mr. Coelho said he was honoured by the designation. “I gladly accept this responsibility and am committed to do my best to work towards a better future for the current and next generations”.
The other Messengers of Peace and their areas of focus are: Ms. Jane Goodall, the environment; Michael Douglas, disarmament and peace and security; Yo-Yo Ma, youth; and Elie Wiesel, human rights and the Holocaust. Italian opera singer Luciano Pavarotii was a Messenger of Peace for nearly a decade before his death in Modena, Italy on 6 September 2007. Mr. Douglas, Ms. Goodall and Mr. Wiesel also will attend the International Day of Peace Observance.