190602 Priyanka Chopra
Priyanka Chopra Image Credit: AFP

The United Nation has responded to Pakistan's demand, to remove Indian actress Priyanka Chopra as a UNICEF Goodwill Ambassador, saying that she retains her right to speak about issues that concern her.

Stephane Dujarric, the spokesperson for Secretary-General Antonio Guterres said on Thursday: "When UNICEF Goodwill Ambassadors speak in their personal capacity, they retain the right to speak about issues that interest or concern them."

He said this during a daily briefing on Thursday while responding to a question about Chopra and added: "Their personal views or actions do not necessarily reflect those of UNICEF."

Petition to remove Priyanka Chopra as Goodwill Ambassador

Pakistan had demanded that Chopra be stripped of her UNICEF Goodwill Ambassador role, saying that her "support for war" and the Indian government amid heightened tensions in the disputed region of Kashmir make a "mockery" of the position.

In a letter addressed to UNICEF Executive Director Henrietta Fore and posted online Wednesday, Pakistan's Human Rights Minister Shireen Mazari asked for the former Miss World to be "immediately denotified" from her role.

Chopra was accused of "jingoism" and showing "support for war" by publicly endorsing the Indian government's position on Kashmir, a disputed region that is claimed in full by both India and Pakistan.

Earlier this month, Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi's Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) announced it would strip autonomy from the state of Jammu and Kashmir -- its part of the Himalayan region. India imposed curfews and a communication blackout.

The move provoked a fierce reaction from Pakistan and demonstrations in support of Kashmir around the world.

Mazari said the Indian government's position on Indian-controlled Kashmir went "against the principles of peace and goodwill that befit a UN Goodwill Ambassador. He wrote: "Unless she is removed immediately, the very idea of a UN Goodwill Ambassador for Peace becomes a mockery globally."


Stephane Dujarric clarified that goodwill ambassadors were only required to be impartial when they spoke on behalf of UNICEF.

"When they speak in their personal capacity, they retain the right to speak about issues of interests or concern to them. Their personal views, however, do not reflect those of the agency with which they may be affiliated with."

Why was Priyanka Chopra criticised?

Chopra, 37, has been the subject of debate over her response to criticism of her tweet after the Balakot airstrike.

Earlier this month, Priyanka Chopra was speaking at BeautyCon in Los Angeles, while taking questions from the audience, Chopra was accused by a Pakistani woman of "encouraging nuclear war in Pakistan." The actress responded calmly: "I have many, many friends from Pakistan and I am from India. War is not something I'm really fond of but I am patriotic, so I'm sorry if I hurt sentiments to people who do love me and have loved me. But I think that all of us have a sort of, a middle ground that we all have to walk. Just like you probably do as well. The way that you came at me right now, girl, don't yell. We're all here for love."

In an exclusive interview with Gulf News, Ayesha Malik, the Pakistani woman who confronted Priyanka Chopra Jonas about allegedly encouraging India-Pakistan nuclear war, claimed she was “extremely disappointed” at the UN ambassador and global star’s response to her question.

Priyanka Chopra was among the several celebrities who posted messages of support for the armed forces after the Balakot airstrike in February; "Jai Hind #IndianArmedForces," she tweeted. Her tweet was meant with a lot of criticism from Pakistan and online petitions were launched to have her removed as a Goodwill Ambassador.