Deeyah Khan becomes UN Goodwill Ambassador

Published under: Solberg's Government

Publisher Ministry of Education and Research

Deeyah Khan, the Norwegian human rights activist, film director and record producer has been appointed Goodwill Ambassador for the United Nations.

It is the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization, UNESCO, which is behind the appointment. The UN has a tradition of appointing individuals who have made their mark in the arts, academia, literature, sports and entertainment to raise awareness about the organization's work and goals. Deeyah Khan should especially promote artistic expression and creativity. 

− I congratulate Deeyah Khan with this important appointment. Many people in the world today are subjected to restrictions on their artistic freedom of expression and are censored, denounced, persecuted and killed. Deeyah Khan is a clear voice for a demanding and highly relevant topic, and I am convinced that she will do an outstanding job as UN goodwill ambassador, says Minister of Education and Research Torbjørn Røe Isaksen. 

Freedom of expression is a fundamental right for all people, but often artists' freedom especially threatened because they can promote certain beliefs and values in a powerful way.

– Deeyah Khan is already an important role model for many young people and an inspiring voice for free speech and human rights. The Ministry of Foreign Affairs has had the pleasure of working with her for several years to strengthen the artistic freedom of expression and especially female artists' right to free expression. I wish her the best of luck with the important mission for the United Nations, says Minister of Foreign Affairs Brende. 

In 2015 Khan received Cultural Affairs human rights prize for her documentary Jihad: A Story of the Others.  

– Deeyah Khan is a brave artist. She contributes to promote respect for fundamental human rights by emphasizing that society must be tolerant of what is different. Deeyah Khan will be a great goodwill ambassador for UNESCO, says Minister of Culture Linda Hofstad Helleland. 

Deeyah Khan was born in Oslo on 7 August 1977. She made her breakthrough as an artist under the name Deepika and released her first solo album at age of 15. After harassment from parts of the conservative Muslim community in Oslo, she left the city for the benefit of London where she has lived since. In 2012 she made the documentary about honour killings Banaz: A Love Story and the movie Jihad: A Story of the Others in 2015.Deeyah Khan has also established Fuuse, an independent film and music company, and she is active in Freemuse, an organisation which fights for freedom of expression for artists. Deeyah Khan has received many Norwegian and international awards for her work. 

The official appointment ceremony will take place in UNESCO, Paris, 21 November.