It’s not often that the United Nations serves host to celebrities, sci-fi fans, and musicians, but that was the scene last night in New York when two events pushed the boundaries in an effort to raise the profile of the UN and award humanitarian achievements. An eclectic assortment of people gathered in the General Assembly hall to listen to speeches and musical tributes at the inaugural MDG Awards launch event.
Among the highlights:
Macy Gray got the crowd moving to her hit, “I Try,” Simply Red’s Mick Hucknall had the crowd clapping to an a cappella number, and Somalia rapper K’naan gained new fans with his hybrid music style that blends America and African musical traditions. Other performances included Toto founder, keyboardist, singer and main composer David singing the hit, “Africa,” and remarks by Armand Assante, Sol Guy and Jonathan Granoff.
Organized by the NGO, Humanitad, and hosted by Ambassador Francis Lorenzo, Deputy Permanent Representative to the UN from the Dominican Republic, the awards honored Archbishop Emeritus Desmond Tutu and Dr. Kevin Cahill for their tireless commitment to achieving the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs), a global effort to end extreme poverty and hunger, provide access to education, health care, and clean water, promote gender equality, and protect the environment. The awardees spoke passionately about their efforts to create a more peaceful and equitable world, with Archbishop Tutu saying that the all of huamanity should act like one big family, caring for those who need it most.
You can watch the program here:
As Mark notes, across the hall, science fiction came to the United Nations in the form of Battleship Galatica. The slightly surreal panel discussion sought to highlight the relevance of the UN even in futuristic outer-space. The panel, organized through the UN’S new Creative Community Outreach Initiative, was moderated by Whoopi Goldberg, and included actors Mary McDonnell, Edward James Olmos, and Battlestar Galactica creators and executive producers Ronald Moore and David Eick. The UN was represented by Radhika Coomaraswamy, Special Representative of the Secretary-General for Children and Armed Conflict; Craig Mokhiber, Deputy Director, New York Office, Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights; Robert Orr, Assistant Secretary-General for Policy Planning, Executive Office of the Secretary-General; and Famatta Rose Osode, Minister and Deputy Permanent Representative, Permanent Mission of Liberia to the United Nations.