Celebrities and advocates came together last night to honor UNICEF’s 70 years of advocacy for children around the world at an event in New York that included conversations with Goodwill Ambassadors and musical performances.


“This celebration of UNICEF’s 70th anniversary belongs to those for whom UNICEF was created in the first place: children. And it also belongs to the thousands of UNICEF staff and our partners whose work in some of the world’s most dangerous and difficult places has touched the lives of millions of children. What can be more important?” said the Executive Director of the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF), Anthony Lake.

To call attention to decades of work for children, the Empire State Building was lit up in UNICEF’s signature blue. Goodwill Ambassador David Beckham switched on the lights.

Other celebrity Goodwill Ambassadors present at the event included Ishmael Beah, Orlando Bloom, Jackie Chan, Angelique Kidjo, Femi Kuti, and world-renowned actress and girls’ rights advocate Priyanka Chopra, whose appointment to UNICEF’s latest Goodwill Ambassador was announced last night.

“My involvement with UNICEF began almost 10 years ago in India. Today, I stand here humbled, enriched, and committed because of it. Thank you, UNICEF, for the amazing journey so far as well as this huge honour,” said Chopra.

Chopra had previously served as a UNICEF national ambassador in India, and she spoke of her experiences over the years to fight for girls’ and adolescents’ rights. She emphasized that she was “proud to stand with UNICEF to help build a world where children’s rights are respected and protected.”

Lake said that “Priyanka Chopra is already a champion for India’s children – and as a UNICEF global Goodwill Ambassador, she will be a force for children and adolescents everywhere.”

The evening was co-hosted by People’s Choice nominee and star of the hit Netflix series Stranger Things, Millie Bobby Brown, who interviewed international soccer star David Beckham about his 11 years as a UNICEF Goodwill Ambassador. Also co-hosting the event were young Broadway star Akira Golz and UNICEF Youth Advocate Chen Lin.

Orquestra Crianca Cidada, a 37-member Brazilian children’s orchestra, kicked off the event’s musical performances, which included a performance by UNICEF Goodwill Ambassadors and international music stars Angelique Kidjo and Femi Kuti with Kids United, a French musical group of children from 8 to 16.

UNICEF Goodwill Ambassador Orlando Bloom spoke onstage with Mustafa Al Said, a child refugee who fled the conflict in Syria and now lives in Germany. UNICEF Goodwill Ambassador Ishmael Beah discussed his experience as a child soldier in Sierra Leone and of his work to fight against the recruitment of children into armed groups.

Juan Carlos, a lawyer from El Salvador who is now 27, spoke to the audience about how UNICEF helped him after he stepped on a buried landmine at the age of five and lost his limbs. He now advocates for children with disabilities and works to break down the barriers and inequities that they often confront.

Livey Van Wyk spoke of the stigma she faces as a mother living with HIV. She was accompanied by her 13-year-old son who is HIV negative thanks to UNICEF’s efforts in Namibia to prevent HIV transmission from mothers to their babies.

“UNICEF was established to bring help and hope to children whose lives and futures are at risk,” said  Lake. “Our mission is no less urgent today. As UNICEF gives children hope, children are the world’s hope for a better future. For all of us.”. SOURCE: UN NEWS CENTRE/PACNEWS [/restrict]