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Nurturing the democratic debate.  
Timor-Leste president Xanana Gusmão to receive UNESCO's 2002 Felix Houphouet-Boigny Peace Prize

08-10-2002 10:00 pm Paris - Xanana Gusmão, President of Timor-Leste, was today chosen as the laureate of the 2002 Félix Houphouët-Boigny Peace Prize by an international jury presided by former US Secretary of State and Nobel Peace Prize laureate Henry Kissinger. Mr Kissinger declared the prize was attributed to the President of the newly independent nation "for his fight for human dignity and for his conduct which has elevated the human spirit not only in his region but in the world."

Mário Soares, the former president of Portugal who is a member of the jury, welcomed this "good choice, which rewards a person that is exceptional both for his humanism and for his pacifism."

A hero of Timor-Leste's freedom movement of which he became the leader in the 1980s, Mr Gusmão - whose full name is José Alexandre Gusmão - was arrested by the Indonesian army in 1992 and held in jail until 1999. He became the first president of East Timor and has been a staunch defender of reconciliation and political pluralism.

The date of the ceremony at which the 122,000 Euros Prize, peace diploma and medal will be awarded is to be determined after consultation with the laureate.

The Félix Houphouët-Boigny Peace Prize - created in 1989 and awarded by UNESCO annually - honours people, organizations and institutions which have contributed significantly to the promotion, research, safeguarding or maintaining of peace, mindful of the Charter of the United Nations and the Constitution of UNESCO. The Prize is named after the first president of Côte d'Ivoire, Félix Houphouët-Boigny. Because of the events of September 11, the Jury decided not to award the Prize for the year 2001.

The international jury of the Prize - composed of jurists, elder statesmen and Nobel Peace Prize laureates - in 2000 honoured the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights and former President of Ireland, Mary Robinson. In 1999, the Prize was awarded to the Community of Sant'Egidio. In 1998, it was shared between Sheikh Hasina, Prime Minister of Bangladesh, and US Senator George Mitchell, former Special Adviser to US President Clinton for Irish Affairs. Other past winners include: President Fidel Ramos of the Philippines and Nur Misuari, Chairman of the Moro National Liberation Front (MNLF) in 1997; Guatemalan President Alvaro Arzu and Guatemalan guerrilla leader Rolando Moran (1996), the United Nations High Commission for Refugees and its High Commissioner Sadako Ogata (1995); King Juan Carlos of Spain and former US President Jimmy Carter (1994); Yitzhak Rabin, Shimon Peres and Yasser Arafat (1993); the International Law Academy in The Hague (1992); Nelson Mandela and Frederik W. De Klerk (1991).

Source Press Release No.2002-75

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