Thursday, September 21, 2006

UNESCO awards the 2006 Prize for Peace Education

As a token of UNESCO’s support of peace makers around the world, Sri Lanka judge Christopher Gregory Weeramantry will receive today the UNESCO Prize for Peace Education “in recognition of his ongoing commitment and concrete work in support of the concept and culture of peace throughout his long and fruitful career”.

Established in 1980, the aim of the UNESCO Prize for Peace Education is to promote all forms of action designed to ‘construct the defences of peace in the minds of men’ by rewarding a particularly outstanding example of activity designed to alert public opinion and mobilize the conscience of humanity in the cause of peace. >>More on UNESCO Prize for Peace Education

As Chairman of the Weeramantry International Centre for Peace Education and Research (WICPER), which Mr. Weeramantry founded in 2001, he has contributed to the promotion of peace education, human rights, intercultural education, social integration, interfaith understanding, environmental protection, international law, disarmament and sustainable development.

Sri Lanka’s history is marked by ethnic hostilities between the two main populations, -the Buddhist Sinhalese and the Hindu Tamils-, based on the diverging privileges and rights of each group. A long and difficult peace process dating back to Sri Lanka’s independence in 1948 continues to have a damaging impact on Sri Lankan society. The Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam, labeled by the United States as a terrorist organization, has been seeking an independent state by leading a series of violent insurgencies against Sinhalese civilians and the Sri Lankan Government, which repeatedly undermined Ceasefire Agreements.

The United Stated, too, acts as a strong supporter of ethnic reconciliation in Sri Lanka. Alongside its fellow members of the Sri Lanka Donor Co-Chair Group*, the United States participates in the monitoring of the Sri Lanka peace process and the post-tsunami reconstruction assistance.

UNESCO Director General will also present a Special Mention of the Prize to Fundación para la Reconciliación (Colombia). Created in 2001, the Fundación para la Reconciliación aims to promote the theory and practice of forgiveness and reconciliation.

* Founded in June 2003, the Sri Lanka Donor Group Co-Chairs consisits of the United States, the European Union, Japan, and Norway.

Photo: Christopher Gregory Weeramantry ©United Nations

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