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An interview with Sir Roger: 15 years of UNICEF involvement in 15 questions

Marie-France Vienne, Sir Roger Moore Official Website - April 2006

What did you feel at the very moment when you were officially appointed as a UNICEF Goodwill Ambassador in August 1991 ?

The reason I joined UNICEF was so that I could get out into the field to witness for myself what was being talked about, and the only way I could do that was by signing a contract to join-up. I was flattered and delighted that they thought me a capable person to represent them.

Who, at UNICEF, is deciding on your travels and missions. Are you personally involved in the decisions ?

It’s decided by a process of mutual discussions, usually involving the UNICEF office in New York.

Your son Christian travelled with you on a two-weeks visit to Guatemala, El Salvador, Honduras and Costa Rica in 1991. Why did you ask him to join you ? Could it be considered as an initiatory journey ?

I thought the trip would expand his view of the world, and of the world’s children. Plus I thought it also might help him learn a little more about his father too.

In 15 years, Sir Roger visited e.g. Honduras, El Salvador, Guatemala, Indonesia, Kosovo, South Korea, Zambia, Japan, Vietnam, Brazil, Ghana, Cambodia.

He is here shown with Lady Kristina in China in August 2004 for raising both awareness and funds for children orphaned by AIDS.

What did your work for UNICEF teach you on a personal level ?

It taught me that I have had a very privileged life.

What is the behind-the-scene life of a UNICEF Ambassador?

Well, there’s lots of reading of reports for a start. I hear from at least one UNICEF committee a day, and that usually involves writing a letter, putting my name to an initiative or preparing a speech, or maybe discussing an upcoming trip.

Your wife, Lady Kristina, is always travelling with you and is also strongly involved. What does her presence bring to you ?

She is the greatest help and support on all levels. In fact, I think she is a better ambassador than I am.

How do you explain the spontaneous “osmose” between the children and you? I think lots of them, especially in the Third-World, do not know you are a big star ?

They probably don’t nor need to know who I am, other than being a friend who wants to help them. The fact that someone talks to them and wants to help means so much in some cases. You cannot help but be touched and humbled in those circumstances.

Is it true that Ralph Fiennes became interested in UNICEF after he listened to a speech you made about Kosovo ?

Well, I certainly discussed UNICEF with Ralph, and I know he heard me speak at an event. However I don’t know if it was that speech that 100% lead him to sign-up.

How do you get ready for long travels, for example to China in 2004 ?

Firstly, read all of the briefing notes to know exactly what the aims of my trip are, and what they hope I can achieve. Then we think about visas, what to pack, are there any black-tie dinners that I need to take my dinner suit for and the usual going-away things that everyone thinks about … cancelling the milk too !

You are not authorized to talk politic but is it not difficult staying silent when you are facing intolerable situations ?

Of course. It can sometimes be extremely difficult to hold my tongue, but one has to think about the bigger picture, and not put as risk any projects or workers by voicing one’s own opinion.

Did these 15 years change your views on the human being ?

I was always aware that many human beings were selfish, but UNICEF has taught me that they are counterbalanced by the extreme kindness and generosity of the rest.

What was (were) the most revolting situation(s) you witnessed since 1991 ?

I don’t think revolting is a word that springs to mind, but one is always disturbed by seeing children suffering and dying. Seeing them handicapped or burnt by landmines, seeing them suffer through the stupidity of others, through poverty, drought and war. Seeing the street children disturbs me greatly. There is in fact too much to include in a simple paragraph.

What were your feelings and your first thoughts when you were made a Commander of the Order of the British Empire in 1999, then in 2003 when you were knighted in recognition of your work with UNICEF ?

On both occasions I was delighted for UNICEF as the honours were really in recognition of their work.

Could you tell me more about the “Julian Rachlin & Friends' concert in Norway on May 29 ?

It forms part of a week-long series of concerts, and I have been invited to narrate the ‘Carnival Of The Animals’ segment on the 29th. I have done it before for Julian, and am looking forward to the 29th.

Could you please sum up in 15 words and/or adjectives your UNICEF experience of the 15 past years ?

I hope I have been able to give back a little of the luck I’ve had.

Interview: Marie-France Vienne


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