Forest Whitaker

© UNESCO/S. Cadel

Co-Founder and Chair

Forest Whitaker is a distinguished artist and humanist; he is the co-founder and chair of the International Institute for Peace and is the UNESCO Goodwill Ambassador for Peace and Reconciliation. Forest Whitaker is also a talented, versatile performer and one of Hollywood’s most accomplished figures. He has received prestigious artistic distinctions, including the 2007 Academy Award for Best Actor for performance as Ugandan dictator Idi Amin in “The Last King of Scotland”, as well as the BAFTA, SAG Award and Golden Globe for Best Actor and the Cannes Film Festival Award for Best Actor for Bird.


Forest Whitaker’s social awareness has compelled him to seek ways of using the film media as a means to raise people’s consciousness. Among others, he has produced the multiply awarded documentary “Kassim the Dream”, which told the poignant story of an Ugandan child soldier turned world championship boxer and the Peabody award winning “Brick City”, a look at inner-city life in Newark, New Jersey.

For the last decade he has dedicated most of his time to extensive humanitarian work. He currently serves as a spokesperson for the Ugandan child soldier orphanage Hope North, providing community and hope to young victims of the civil war. He contributes to the development of new buildings and fundraising which helps sustain the school today. In 2001, Forest was awarded the Humanitas Prize for his selfless and ongoing advocacy for child soldiers, as well as his work with inner-city youth. In 2008 he served as a member of the Urban Policy Committee and currently sits on the board of the President's Committee on the Arts and the Humanities (PCAH). In 2011, Forest was sworn in as a UNESCO Goodwill Ambassador for Peace and Reconciliation. In this role, he works towards global peace building through anti-violent education research, training and community building. In a partnership with Rutgers University, Forest co-founded the International Institute for Peace, which focuses on conflict resolution and community empowerment through education-based programmes. The institute, which works under the auspices of UNESCO, builds partnerships worldwide working with grass-root organizations, anti-violence educators, youth visionaries and building environmental conflict awareness in an effort to spread the message of peace and reconciliation.

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