Pavarotti annually hosted the “Pavarotti and Friends” charity concerts in his home town of Modena in Italy, joining with singers from all parts of the music industry, including Eric Clapton, Elton John, Sting, Bono and Sheryl Crow, to raise money for several UN causes. Concerts were held for War Child, and victims of war and civil unrest in Bosnia, Guatemala, Kosovo, and Iraq. After the war in Bosnia, he financed and established the Pavarotti Music Center in the southern city of Mostar to offer Bosnia’s artists the opportunity to develop their skills. For these contributions, the city of Sarajevo named him an honorary citizen in 2006.
He performed at benefit concerts to raise money for victims of tragedies such as an earthquake in December 1988 that killed 25,000 people in northern Armenia.
He was a close friend of Diana, Princess of Wales. They raised money for the elimination of land mines worldwide. He was invited to sing at her funeral service, but declined, as he felt he could not sing well “with his grief in his throat”. Nonetheless, he attended the service.
In 1998, he was appointed the United Nation’s Messenger of Peace, using his fame to raise awareness of UN issues, including the Millennium Development Goals, HIV/AIDS, child rights, urban slums and poverty.
In 1999, Pavarotti performed a charity benefit concert in Beirut, to mark Lebanon’s reemergence on the world stage after a brutal 15 year civil war. The largest concert held in Beirut since the end of the war, it was attended by 20,000 people who traveled from countries as distant as Saudi Arabia and Bulgaria. It was the tenor’s only concert in the Middle East.
In 2001, Pavarotti received the Nansen Medal from the UN High Commission for Refugees for his efforts raising money on behalf of refugees worldwide. Through benefit concerts and volunteer work, he has raised more than any other individual.
In 1978 Pavarotti was initiated as an honorary member of the University of Miami’s Beta Tau Chapter of Phi Mu Alpha Sinfonia, a fraternity dedicated to the advancement of music in America. Other honors he received include the “Freedom of London Award” and The Red Cross “Award for Services to Humanity”, for his work in raising money for that organization, and the 1998 “MusiCares Person Of The Year”, given to humanitarian heroes by the National Academy of Recording Arts and Sciences.