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UN Secretary-General Appeals to Hollywood, California Students

United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon has met with members of Hollywood's creative community, to enlist their help in promoting the objectives of the international body. Mr. Ban later spoke with students at the University of California, Los Angeles, on how they can pursue such goals as global development and environmental protection.

The secretary-general met with the Hollywood movers and shakers on Monday, including studio executives and stars like Michael Douglas. He told them the work of the UN is sometimes more dramatic than Hollywood movies.

Speaking Tuesday at UCLA, the United Nations official said he hoped to promote such global goals as peace and stability, balanced development and the rights of women.

"… promote gender empowerment, protect women and girls from sexual abuse, sexual exploitation - those are very serious issues and message which I really wanted to use Hollywood technologies and their capabilities and their reach," said Ban Ki-moon. "And I got very positive responses from them."

The United Nations has long employed celebrities to convey its message. The actress Angelina Jolie, as a goodwill ambassador for the U.N. refugee agency, has travelled to Africa, Asia and Haiti.

Mr. Ban has worked to expand the UN's Hollywood ties through an effort called the Creative Community Outreach Initiative. Last year, the television series Law and Order: Special Victims Unit filmed scenes at the UN's New York headquarters for an episode that told of conflict in Africa, child soldiers and sex slaves. And a UN-backed campaign to raise awareness of malaria was featured on the comedy Ugly Betty.

The diplomat told students and faculty members at UCLA that the world financial crisis shows how quickly problems spread from one place to another.

"Climate change, a global food crisis, global terrorism, weapons of mass destruction," he said. "Never have the fates of the world's people been so closely linked."

Mr. Ban recalled his own experience as a high school student in 1962, when he won an essay contest sponsored by the Red Cross and got the chance to meet US President John F. Kennedy. He also stayed with a family near San Francisco as an exchange student, and says the experience opened his eyes to the world outside his native South Korea.

He assured UCLA students that they can play a role in addressing the world's problems, from climate change to discrimination and violence against women.

"You can ask your teachers, your professors, you can ask your business community leaders, you can ask NGO leaders," said Mr. Ban. "And you can write to your congressman and senators that they must move. This is the role which you can play, and that's why I'm standing before you."

He also assured a questioner that he is serious about institutional reform at the U.N., and says he has expanded rules of financial transparency and imposed clear standards of performance on senior advisors.