2000 - UNESCO-Madanjeet Singh Prize for the Promotion of Tolerance and Non-violence

News 1st October 2000
Shenouda III
From right to left: The Egyptian Coptic Patriarch, Shenouda III, her excellency Egyptian Ambassador and SAF Founder Madanjeet Singh.

Egyptian Copt Leader Winner of UNESCO-Madanjeet Singh Prize for Tolerance and Non-violence.

Pope Shenouda III, the head of Egypt's Coptic Orthodox Church, was named laureate of the UNESCO-Madanjeet Singh Prize for the Promotion of Tolerance and Non-violence by UNESCO Director-General Koïchiro Matsuura today on the recommendation of an international jury.

The jury is composed of five members:

Nasser El-Ansary, Director-General of the Paris-based Institut du Monde Arabe; Inder Gudjral, former Prime Minister of India who was prevented from attending the jury meeting; Sociologist Julio Labastida Martin del Campo (Mexico), a former UNESCO Assistant Director-General for the Social Sciences; Anatoli Torkunov, Rector of the Moscow State Institute of International Relations (Russia); And writer and University of Abidjan-Cocody philosophy professor, Tanella Boni (Côte d'Ivoire), who is the president of the jury.

Ms. Boni explained the choice of the jury saying: "Pope Shenouda is a religious personality whose work has been devoted to the promotion of tolerance. We feel that religion is an area where tolerance must be particularly encouraged because it is often in religion that it is particularly lacking."

Pope Shenouda III's commitment to peace and tolerance is expressed through his sermons, books and official Church bulletins. He has established a relationship of trust with Muslims and has also worked to facilitate international dialogue between religions and plays an active role in easing inter-religious tensions as they arise in Egypt

The jury also decided to attribute two Honourable Mentions. One to Indonesian human rights activist Munir, founder of the Commission for Disappearances and Victims of Violence (KONTRAS) which co-ordinates a network of non-governmental organisations and associations concerned with state-organised violence and local conflicts.

Munir is also a member of Simpati, an organisation which fights discrimination against the Chinese community of Indonesia.

An Honourable Mention is also being attributed to former Sierra Leone Education Secretary Christiana Ayoka Mary Thorpe, founder of the Sierra Leone chapter of the non-governmental organisation Forum for African Women Educationalists. Her work focuses on meeting the needs of young women and girls traumatised by war and on the fight against the exclusion of pregnant girls and girl mothers.

Three Special Mentions have been awarded. One goes to U.S. non-governmental organisation Seeds of Peace, founded by former journalist John Wallach, which has been particularly active in seeking to promote peace between Arabs and Israelis.

Since its foundation in 1992, the organisation, which receives support from over 10,000 individuals and foundations in the U.S., has been teaching tolerance and peaceful conflict resolution skills to young people through a variety of programmes.

Another Special Mention is awarded to Iranian pro-reform daily newspaper Salaam. Launched in 1991, Salaam was banned in 1999. It encouraged public participation in community life, called for greater transparency on the part of the political authorities and fought for press freedom. Russian radio and television broadcaster Mir has also been given a Special Mention.

Created in 1992, Mir today covers ten former Soviet Republics. It seeks to promote mutual understanding and disseminate the principles of tolerance and non-violence among the peoples of the Commonwealth of Independent States, teaching listeners and viewers to listen to others and to respect them.

Created in 1995, the US$ 40,000 Prize dedicated to advancing the spirit of tolerance in the arts, education, culture, science and communication is awarded every two years to an individual or an institution for exceptional contributions and leadership in the field of tolerance promotion.

It was made possible by the donation of Indian artist, writer and diplomat Madanjeet Singh, a former activist in Mahatma Gandhi's non-violent "Quit India" movement against British colonial rule.

Mr. Singh has also served as Ambassador of India in Asia, South America, Africa and Europe. The UNESCO-Madanjeet Singh Prize for the Promotion of Tolerance and Non-Violence will be presented in a ceremony at Organization Headquarters on November 16, International Day for Tolerance which is also the anniversary date of UNESCO's foundation.

(source: UNESCOPRESSE, 17th October 2000)