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David Flumenbaum

David Flumenbaum

Posted: September 26, 2008 02:20 PM

Celebrities Join YouTube at UN to Launch Poverty Campaign (PHOTOS)


Against the backdrop of the 63rd session of the United Nations General Assembly, a group of activists, dignitaries and entertainers Thursday challenged world leaders to cut global poverty in half by 2015. The 'in my name' campaign, an effort spearheaded by YouTube, Oxfam and the Global Call to Action against Poverty (GCAP), featured the official release and live performance of a new song, also called "in my name," written and performed by will.i.am of the Black Eyed Peas.

I asked will.i.am about the new campaign and his feelings on the first McCain/Obama debate:

Joining will.i.am at the event, which took place two blocks south of the U.N. building, was his fellow Black Eyed Pea apl.de.ap, African singer Angelique Kidjo, supermodel Elle Macpherson, Sex in the City star Kristin Davis, Queen Rania of Jordan, Indian actor/director Rahul Bose and the former president of Ireland Mary Robinson. Reportedly, Bono showed up at noon after the press had already left. Each celebrity signed a Perspex glass wall to signify his or her support for the cause and will leave a message on the campaign website.

Here's a slideshow of all the stars:

The most prominent guest on hand to sign the wall was U.N. Secretary General Ban Ki-moon who came briefly to address the crowd, sign the wall, and take photographs. Flanked by six secret service agents, the Secretary General told the crowd:

I signed my name as a citizen of Korea, but above all as a citizen of the world. As Secretary-General, of the United Nations, I will be taking your message back to the many world leaders I am meeting here this week. I am determined to push them to keep the promises their Governments made here eight years ago.

The full text of Ban's address can be found here.

The promises Ban described were the Millennium Development Goals, a set of initiatives issued in 2000 by 189 world leaders to achieve by 2015. The goals include halving the over one billion people in the world living on a dollar a day or less, reducing the child mortality rate and combating epidemics prevalent in poor regions such as HIV/AIDS. Currently, at the halfway point, the 'in my name' campaign vows to remind the U.N. to of its commitment to these goals and help leaders to enact policy to achieve them.

The 'in my name' campaign brings an interactive, user-generated media element to the fight against poverty. YouTube has launched a new 'in my name' channel on its site where users can submit videos stating their name, country and a personal message to their leaders on world poverty. In the next few weeks, YouTube will review all submissions and will.i.am will produce a mash-up of the best videos to be presented in front of the U.N. General Assembly in November.

YouTube's head of news and politics Steve Grove told HuffPost, "The thing about YouTube is that it lowers the barrier of entry to get involved. It's so easy to hop on YouTube and just upload a video message, speaking directly to your world leaders about what you want changed... we're empowering a whole new group of activists to have a voice."

Last year, 43.7 million people joined GCAP's Stand Up campaign, setting a new Guinness world record in activism. This year, GCAP aims to enlist 67 million names, one percent of the world's population. GCAP hopes the mass appeal and star power of the 'in my name' campaign will bring more activists into the fold and allow the movement to grow.

"The struggle for human rights, the struggle for justice, the struggle to end poverty," GCAP's co-chair Kumi Naidoo said, "these struggles are marathons, not sprints."

Here is clip from the live performance of "In My Name" from the U.N.:

And here is the official music video for "In My Name" performed by will.i.am, Angelique Kidjo and apl.de.ap:

www.youtube.com/inmyname
www.inmyname.com