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American film star Forest Whitaker to be named UNESCO Goodwill Ambassador


UNESCO Director General Irina Bokova will designate American actor, director and producer Forest Whitaker as UNESCO Goodwill Ambassador for Peace and Reconciliation. The nomination ceremony will take place at UNESCO Headquarters in Paris on 21 June, at 6 p.m.

The designation comes in recognition of Mr Whitaker’s humanitarian and artistic commitment. This is most visible in his projects, such as “Better Angels”, a film about Ugandan child soldiers or “Common Destiny”, a documentary about the common goals of achieving peace and mutual understanding, and the power of education in promoting peace and reconciliation between and within communities.

Forest Whitaker was born in 1961 in Texas, USA. He studied opera in California to become a tenor singer but decided to focus on film acting eventually and moved to study in London. Since his film debut in “Fast Times at Ridgemont High” in 1982, he has been one of Hollywood’s most accomplished figures. His best known performances include his roles as jazzman Charlie Parker in “Bird”, for which he was awarded the Palme d’Or in Cannes for best actor in 1989, and as Ugandan leader Idi Amin in “Last King of Scotland”, for which he received an Academy Award in 2006.

Apart of his Hollywood career, Forest Whitaker has also been involved with organizations like Penny Lane, providing assistance to abused teenagers or PETA and Farm Sanctuary - organizations that protect animals’ rights. For this work, he was awarded the Humanitas Prize, an award for film and television writing intended to promote human dignity, meaning, and freedom, and the Hope of Los Angeles Award.

As UNESCO Goodwill Ambassador for Peace and Reconciliation, Forest Whitaker will support UNESCO’s priorities and activities, promoting and advocating greater public awareness and mobilising decision-makers and stakeholders globally to support programmes for youth focusing on education for peace, human rights and global citizenship.

At a dedicated session of UNESCO’s Youth Forum at the 36th General Conference in October 2011, Mr. Whitaker will participate as keynote speaker and present documentary and advocacy films, focusing on peace and reconciliation initiatives.

UNESCO’s Goodwill Ambassadors are an outstanding group of celebrity advocates who spread the ideals of UNESCO through their name and fame. They extend and amplify UNESCO’s work and mission and have generously accepted to use their talent and status to help focus the world’s attention on the work of UNESCO. Through their careers and humanitarian commitment they have made an important contribution towards the objectives and aims in UNESCO’s four fields of competence, which are education, culture, science and communication/information.


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