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ABOUT THE PUBLIC PEACE PRIZE
How many men, women and organizations have dedicated a large part of their existence to resolving conflicts and creating conditions for peace, but will never be recognized?
Yes, every year prestigious awards are presented to a number of artisans of peace who distinguish themselves by their efforts, courage and ceaseless work in the name of a just, lasting and constructive peace. However, how many individuals, who are just as devoted but less visible, remain little known?
The Public Peace Prize (PPP), established in 2013 by a team of ordinary citizens, has the specific mission of making known to the general public the less known local, national and international peacemakers and peace initiatives.
This citizen’s initiative is in keeping with the spirit of collaboration and open sharing which is proper to new media. Anyone may: propose a nominee by following simple instructions; support candidates when they have been validated and posted on the Peace Prize’s site and its Facebook page; post / share nominee profiles and their actions for peace on their own social media networks.
The nomination process and the public’s supportive actions conclude with the announcement of the recipients during a day of online celebration of peace initiatives and peacemakers. While the PPP does not award cash prizes, it greatly contributes to the recognition of the laureates.
Review of a Growing Initiative
The First Recipients of the Prize in 2014
Launched in November 2013, the first edition of the PPP received, in two months, 28 nominations from 13 countries. Among them was Dr. Denis MUKWEGE, from the Democratic Republic of the Congo who opened a hospital to provide health care to women victims of rape. Another nominee was a young woman from Pakistan, Malala YOUSAFZAI, who would later receive the 2014 Nobel Peace Prize for her courage and determination in promoting access to education for girls and women around the world.
Nominations were divided into three categories: local, national and international. More than 4,450 nominations were received.
Esteemed Amazonian Chief RAONI was voted “International Public Peace Prize Laureate” for his contribution to the preservation of indigenous cultures and the rainforest. Recipient of the same award was Palestinian doctor Izzeldin ABUELAISH, of Gaza, an important figure in Israeli-Palestinian relations. Three of his daughters and a niece were killed in 2009 when his house was shelled. These events inspired him to write the book I Shall Not Hate.
The public awarded the Public Peace Prize in the category “Local Peacemakers” to a PERSON WITH DOWN SYNDROME in recognition of the ability of persons with Down syndrome to radiate simplicity and peace in supportive environment.
The intermediate category, “Emerging Peacemaker”, was awarded to a person who was already active internationally, but not yet recognized. Indeed, the public selected a Canadian teacher, Marie-Marcelle DESMARAIS, director of the Institut de formation humaine intégrale de Montréal (IFHIM). She initiated the “Builders of Bridges for Peace” training program which is currently present in several continents.
The Peace Prize’s second edition
In 2015, 143,635 support actions for one of the PPP candidates or another were recorded on social media.
Quebec photographer, author and playwright Philippe DUCROS, who is particularly aware of the situation in Palestine, received overwhelming public support in the Emerging Peacemaker category.
Dr. Michel ENGLEBERT of Belgium, a former member of Doctors without Borders, was voted Public Peace Prize Laureate in the Local Peacemaker category for creating an enabling environment for adults with disabilities, regardless of their differences.
The Public Peace Prize in the Internationally-reputed Peacemaker category attracted a large number of votes, mainly from India. Spiritual leader Dr. VASANTH VIJAJJI MAHARAJ message is one of harmony, of unity and universal community, of reconciliation, and of peace between families, between citizens and between nations. His vision is to provide peace and non-violence education to all children and youth.
In the 2015 edition, new award categories were added:
The Laureate in the “Solidarity Peace Group” category was the IBAKWE Association for its work with genocide survivors in Rwanda.
The “Peace Weaver” award was presented to Mabel KATZ an American television show host and speaker, originally from Argentina. She highlights a peace process inspired by a Hawaiian spiritual practice.
The Peace Prize’s Third Edition in 2016
Narine DAT SOOKRAM, a Canadian originally from Guyana, represents the rich social and economic contribution made by immigrants. He was awarded the 2016 Public Peace Prize in the Social Integration and Community Peacemaker category.
Antoinette LAYOUN is a therapist and a yoga master in Quebec (Canada). She came away from her experience as a child soldier in Lebanon filled with the strength to love, and now artfully teaches ways to inner peace. She received the 2016 Public Peace Prize as Personal Peace Weaver and Social Peacemaker.
Suzanne LOISELLE affirms through her words and actions that peace is not possible without justice and that without analysis there is no solidarity. As Director of Entraide missionnaire for the past 30 years, she is a peace and justice activist who, from Quebec, Canada, advocates for peace and justice between North and South countries.
The public presented the Global Peace and Internationality Recognized Reconciliation Peacemaker award to two predominant peace activists:
Marie DENNIS, of the United States, is a respected icon of peace and reconciliation movements on an international scale. She contributes compassion, skillful advocacy and spiritual wisdom to intercultural and interreligious dialogue, indispensable to world peace.
Michael LAPSLEY, of South Africa, is an anti-apartheid activist who was severely injured by a parcel bomb. He is recognized for his disarming strength that transforms wounds into powerful healing and reconciliation. He founded the Institute for Healing Memories.
The Peace Prize’s Fourth Edition
The Peace Prize organizers realize that for peacemakers in certain countries, where their lives are often threatened, support actions from other regions of the globe are vital to their continuing their work.
The PPP’s 2017 edition is a good example: Some twenty individuals and organisations from Africa (Cameroon, Ghana, Nigeria), the Middle East (Yemen), Asia (India, Pakistan), the Americas (Colombia, United States) and Europe (France) were proposed.
In this way, the PPP introduces young voices for peace to the public:
Elliot Hillary DOGBE, 12 years old from Ghana, is a peace ambassador and the voice for children during a turbulent election campaign period.
Khairatul SAIDU is a 17-year-old Nigerian peace activist who is fighting for the rights of inhumanly sentenced prisoners. She also hosts an online forum for youth to share ideas about peace.
South of Barranquilla, Colombia, PAZABORDO, a youth initiative, encourages a culture of peace and the construction of neighbourhoods’ local memory through radio.
Coraline PARMENTIER is a 21-year-old French pianist originally from Africa. She learned the music of the Middle East and offers concerts in order to help bring people and cultures together.
Mediators dedicated to conflict resolution and peace promotion are among the 2017 laureates:
After witnessing the killing of his mother, brother and sister, Timothy Michael ADEPOJU, became a dedicated peace activist whose day-to-day life demonstrates his belief that, as his slogan says, “Peace is Possible in Nigeria.”
Actively involved in Cameroon, Patrick Tocko MALOUM is an expert in international conflict resolution. He has worked in the Central African Republic, Côte-d’Ivoire, and in the Democratic Republic of the Congo with civil society organisations and with UN missions to support conflict resolution, disarmament, demobilization and the reintegration of child soldiers.
In Pakistan, Zubair TORWALI, an author, human, social and cultural rights activist, and researcher, is the most powerful voice for the rights of all the marginalized linguistic communities in the northern regions of Pakistan.
AAGHAZ-E-DOSTI (meaning ‘beginning of friendship’) is an initiative – made up of citizens from India and Pakistan – that works against all odds on both sides of the border to create havens of peace and friendship between the two traditionally rival communities.
New in 2018: a less competitive prize emphasizing the mutual aid and collaboration of the candidates’ support teams.
Following events that have devastated cities and threaten world security, we are forced to admit that acts of violence are over-covered in comparison to the coverage made of peace initiatives. If violence is so viral, is it possible to make peace actions contagious?
In order to create a movement of empathy and trust in a possible peace, it is essential to acknowledge the concrete actions achieved by witnesses working for a just and sustainable peace.
The challenge is surmounting paralyzing fear and escaping from indifference which “finds expression in disinterest and a lack of engagement, which only help to prolong situations of injustice and grave social imbalance,” according to Pope Francis.
The Public Peace Prize stands firm in wanting to give peace a voice. It will fulfill its mission insofar as the public will make it possible for us to discover artisans of peace of diverse cultures and religions. From diversity come dialogue and the ability to understand others – so essential to real peace.
Wanted: Volunteers and Correspondents
The People’s Peace Prize is looking for writers, translators, communicators, artists, musicians and correspondents in different countries to contribute to the process of acknowledging world peace initiatives and artisans of peace!