10.11.2009 - UNESCO Social and Human Sciences

Madanjeet Singh Prize for the Promotion of Tolerance and Non-Violence award ceremony on 16 November

The UNESCO Madanjeet Singh Prize for the Promotion of Tolerance and Non-Violence was presented to this year’s two laureates - François Houtart, Belgian sociologist and theologian, and Abdul Sattar Edhi, Pakistani philanthropist – at a ceremony on Monday 16 November at UNESCO’s Paris Headquarters on International Day for Tolerance.

The 2009 laureates were designated on 20 October by the Director-General of UNESCO, Koïchiro Matsuura, on the recommendation of an international jury chaired by Ioanna Kuçuradi (Turkey) and composed of Maurice Glele Ahanhanzo (Benin), Kamal Hossain (Bangladesh), Masateru Nakagawa (Japan) and Mokhtar Taleb-Bendiab (Algeria).

Mr Houtart is an ardent promoter of North-South cooperation and the founder of the Tri-Continental Centre (CETRI), a non-governmental organization reputed for its work on development issues for the International Council of the World Social Forum. A defender of human rights throughout his life, he has contributed significantly to the advancement of the inter-faith and inter-cultural dialogue. As a noted sociologist of religion and a theologian, he has authored numerous publications and given lectures in over 100 universities around the world. An honorary member of the Academy of Sciences of Vietnam and Cuba and a member of the Commission on Struggle against Racism of the Ecumenical Council of the Churches, he has served as President of the Committee for Human Rights in Burundi (1986-1992) and of the International League for People’s Rights (2003-2008).

Dr. Edhi is one of the most active philanthropists in Pakistan through his Edhi Foundation, which he created in 1957. A non-profit social welfare programme with over 300 centres across Pakistan, the foundation provides the needy with medical aid, family planning, emergency assistance and education. It sets up maternity homes, mental asylums, homes for the physically handicapped, blood banks and orphanages, among other services. Branches in several other countries (Afghanistan, Bangladesh, Ethiopia etc.) bring relief to refugees and other victims of strife and natural disasters. Dr Edhi is renowned for his active stand against extremism and his support of human rights as well as for his humanitarian efforts.

Two Honourable Mentions were also presented, to the St. Petersburg Government Programme on Tolerance (Russian Federation) and to the International Slavery Museum in Liverpool (United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland). The St Petersburg programme received the prize for its constructive efforts to inculcate mutual respect and tolerance in a multi-cultural and multi-ethnic society and prevent all forms of discrimination. The diploma was given to Valentina Matvienko, governor of the city of St Petersburg. The Slavery Museum in Liverpool is recognized for its efforts to commemorate the lives and deaths of millions of enslaved Africans, and for its work to fight against legacies of slavery such as racism, discrimination, inequalities, injustice and exploitation, as well as against contemporary forms of slavery. Richard Benjamin, the museum’s director, received the diploma.

Dedicated to advancing the spirit of tolerance, the UNESCO Madanjeet Singh Prize is awarded every two years to individuals or institutions for outstanding contributions to the promotion of tolerance and non-violence in the arts, education, culture, science and communication. The $100,000 Prize is funded through the generosity of Indian writer and diplomat Madanjeet Singh, who is also a UNESCO Goodwill Ambassador.

Related links

Download the brochure on the Prize [PDF, 1.9 MB]

Message from Irina Bokova, Director-General of UNESCO, on the occasion of International Day for Tolerance, 16 November 2009 [PDF, 176 KB]




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