This Institute was established in 2000 to foster reconciliation in post Apartheid South Africa and to advocate peace through rigorous socio-political analysis.
The Award Ceremony was held at UNESCO Headquarters in Paris, in presence of two members of the International Jury for 2008: Mr Mohammed Arkoun, Emeritus Professor of History of Islamic Thought and President of the Jury, and Mr Javier Pérez de Cuéllar, Former Secretary-General of the United Nations. Mr George Anastassopoulos, President of UNESCO’s General Conference, was also present at the Ceremony.
The Director-General began his intervention by recalling that this prize, bestowed every two years with the generous support of the Nippon foundation, is awarded within the framework of the celebrations of the International Day of Peace (21 September), in recognition of outstanding activities in the cause of peace.
Noting that “ignorance, lack of justice, discrimination, inequality, intolerance and exclusion provide fertile ground for violence, aggression and conflict,” Mr Matsuura emphasized UNESCO’s role as lead agency of the 2001-2010 International Decade for a Culture of Peace and Non-Violence for the Children of the World. He underscored: “UNESCO's commitment to peace, dialogue and universal values is thus more needed than ever. So is the necessity to reaffirm the essential role of those values in bringing about a world of greater tolerance and of mutual understanding, respect and support in the observance of human rights.”
Mr Matsuura went on to congratulate the Institute for Justice and Reconciliation from South Africa, represented by its Executive Director, Mr Fanie du Toit, for its outstanding action towards peace and sustainable reconciliation through education. He highlighted that “Education for Reconciliation has been a core programme of the Institute’s work to build and strengthen reconciliation processes in South Africa, and several other African countries including Rwanda, Sudan and Burundi.”
The Director-General stated that the promotion of lifelong Peace Education also remained a key concern for UNESCO. “Peace education is fundamental to developing respect for human rights and democracy. It eschews violence, prejudice, stereotypes and discrimination, and instils a spirit of tolerance and international understanding that allows us to move from a culture of war to a culture of peace,” he concluded.
Author(s): Office of the Spokesperson - Source: Flash Info N° 122-2008 - Publication Date: 19-09-2008