UN says goodwill ambassadors 'retain the right to speak about issues' in a personal capacity

Updated August 23, 2019

Email

Statement in response to question regarding Unicef Goodwill Ambassador Priyanka Chopra Jonas' alleged pro-war comments. — Dawn Images/File
Statement in response to question regarding Unicef Goodwill Ambassador Priyanka Chopra Jonas' alleged pro-war comments. — Dawn Images/File
Stephane Dujarric, the spokesperson for Secretary-General Antonio Guterres, made the statement in response to a reporter's question. — AFP/File
Stephane Dujarric, the spokesperson for Secretary-General Antonio Guterres, made the statement in response to a reporter's question. — AFP/File

The United Nations has said that goodwill ambassadors "in their personal capacity [...] retain the right to speak about issues that interest or concern them".

The statement came from Stephane Dujarric, the spokesperson for Secretary-General Antonio Guterres, in light of allegedly pro-war comments made by United Nations Children's Fund (Unicef) Goodwill Ambassador and India actor Priyanka Chopra Jonas in February and highlighted recently by an activist.

Answering a reporter's question regarding the UN's stance on Chopra's statements in Thursday's briefing, Dujarric said: “Well I mean I can tell you that for any goodwill ambassador whether it’s Miss Chopra or anyone else, we expect them to adhere to impartial positions when they speak on behalf of Unicef or any other organisation."

However, he added that when these ambassadors speak in "their personal capacity they retain the right to speak about issues of interest or concern to them."

"Their personal views however do not reflect the views of the agency with which they may be affiliated with," Dujarric clarified.

It was learnt on August 21 that Human Rights Minister Shireen Mazari had formally written to the head of Unicef, asking her to remove the Indian actress as a global Unicef Goodwill Ambassador over her comments.

The minister's move had come days after Chopra was confronted at an event in the United States earlier this month by Pakistani-American activist Ayesha Malik over a tweet sent out by the actor earlier this year in favour of the Indian army.

The controversy

Chopra had garnered widespread criticism on social media over her response to Malik's question at a BeautyCon event in Los Angeles earlier this month.

Malik had called out the Indian actress for being a “hypocrite” and “encouraging nuclear war against Pakistan” by tweeting in favour of the Indian army in February, when Pakistan and India came to the brink of war in the wake of the Pulwama attack in occupied Kashmir.

In response, Chopra termed Malik's statement as "venting" and instead of properly replying to her, went on to say: “I have many, many friends from Pakistan and I am from India. War is not something I’m really fond of but I am patriotic, so I’m sorry if I hurt sentiments of people who do love me and have loved me.

“But I think that all of us have a, sort of, middle ground that we all have to walk. Just like you probably do as well. The way that you came at me right now ... girl, don’t yell. We’re all here for love. Don't embarrass yourself.”