A goodwill ambassador is a person who advocates for a specific cause (e.g. a country or an organisation) on the basis of their notability. Goodwill ambassadors generally deliver goodwill or promote ideals from one entity to another, or to a population. The term should be distinguished from the related concept of a brand ambassador, who plays a role in promoting a company or product through personal interaction. A goodwill ambassador may be an individual from one country who resides in or travels to another country, in a diplomatic mission (or international friendship mission) at a peer to peer level; that is: country to country, state to state, city to city; or, as an intermediary representing the people at the other extreme of an organization.
Goodwill ambassadors have been an official (or unofficial) part of governments and cultures for as long as diplomacy has existed; to exchange gifts and presents; humanitarian relief; or development aid, using well-known celebrities, scientists, authors, known activists, and other high society figures. Goodwill missions of countries are usually carried out or overseen by the head of state, and do not necessarily involve diplomatic credentials beyond a letter of presentation (or letter of credence). However, some states, such as Haiti, do issue credentials that include diplomatic immunity for goodwill ambassadors.
Organizations that employ goodwill ambassadors
A wide range of organizations employ goodwill ambassadors to promote their programs and reach out to others with programs that are based on good relations, from multinational groups such as the United Nations and United Nations Associations, the African Union and the European Union, through nations and subnational groups (for example the United States and individual states, for example the role played by Tennessee's ambassadors of goodwill and Kentucky's Kentucky Colonel). Goodwill ambassadors are also used by social and fundraising organizations such as Rotary International, the Olympic Games, the Muscular Dystrophy Association, and the organization of goodwill ambassadors, Globcal International. A wide range of United Nations organizations and other intergovernmental organizations that have an observer status also have goodwill ambassador programs, for example the UN Development Programme, UNESCO, UNICEF and the World Health Organization.
Numerous governmental and nongovernmental organizations employing goodwill ambassadors follow a practice of honoring individuals with goodwill ambassador awards. Awards are given for good relations, fundraising/philanthropic acts, and for recognition in advocacy. For example, comedian Trevor Noah received a South African Goodwill Ambassador Award in 2015, actress Alex Okoroji received a Nigeria Goodwill Ambassador Award in 2017, and the Steve Irwin Memorial Goodwill Ambassador Award was established in 2007. Former First Lady of Nigeria, Patience Jonathan became a goodwill ambassador after receiving the African Goodwill Ambassador Award in Los Angeles in 2008.
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