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Building peace in the minds of men and women

Laureates of the UNESCO-Madanjeet Singh Prize for the Promotion of Tolerance and Non-Violence

Established in 1995 on the occasion of the United Nations Year for Tolerance and the 125th anniversary of the birth of Mahatma Gandhi, the UNESCO-Madanjeet Singh Prize for the Promotion of Tolerance and Non-Violence rewards significant activities in the scientific, artistic, cultural and communication fields aimed at the promotion of a spirit of tolerance and non-violence.  


2020 – Centre Résolution Conflits (Centre for Resolution of Conflicts - CRC, Democratic Republic of Congo)

The international Jury of the Prize recommended the CRC in recognition of its work for the defence of human rights, its “tireless [commitment to the] rescue of child soldiers from militia groups, and their rehabilitation and reintegration into their home communities. [CRC] also brings together communities from different tribes to live together in peace by conducting special training for this purpose.”

CRC negotiates and builds trust with militia leaders and builds trust with them over time while collaborating with child protection agencies. Thanks to the NGO, nearly 1,000 ex-child soldiers returned to peaceful life in their communities since 2011 reutnring to school or professional trainings. CRC alsoprovides them with psychosocial support to help them overcome trauma.

CRC also trains agricultural cooperatives to promote tolerance and build mutual understanding between different communities. It has provided 40 agricultural communities with training in new agricultural techniques, financial management and peaceful conflict resolution between 2014 and 2018, helping almost 2,000 people increase their income and learn to trust ex-combatants.


2018 – Manon Barbeau (Canada) and The Coexist Initiative (Kenya)

Canadian filmmaker Manon Barbeau, President and Founder of Wapikoni Mobile, and the Kenyan NGO The Coexist Initiative are the laureates of the 2018 UNESCO-Madanjeet Singh Prize for the Promotion of Tolerance and Non-Violence. Firmin Edouard Matoko, Assistant Director-General of UNESCO for Priority Africa and External Relations, and France Marquet, Principal Trustee of the Madanjeet Singh Foundation, awarded the Prize during an official ceremony on 16 November 2018.

For its eleventh edition, organized around traditional Indian dance presented by the Khajuri Association, the ceremony was held at UNESCO Headquarters in Paris on the occasion of the International Day of Tolerance. In his opening address, Mr Matoko stressed that tolerance is "both a moral virtue and a political principle: it lies in the ability to recognize others in their full dignity, and to grant them rights equivalent to ours, by virtue of their humanity". France Marquet, for her part, recalled the importance of the work of the Madanjeet Singh Foundation, established in the name of its benefactor Madanjeet Singh, who was a UNESCO Goodwill Ambassador, Indian artist, writer and diplomat.

Manon Barbeau is rewarded for the many activities carried out for indigenous peoples through Wapikoni Mobile, a traveling training and audiovisual creation studio, which organizes educational workshops, film screenings and training activities. Its wide range of initiatives aims to enable indigenous youth to learn about audiovisual creation and to promote and highlight indigenous cultures, languages and identities. The filmmaker stressed the importance of giving a voice to these peoples and recognizing their own rights.

Wanjala Wafula, the founder of The Coexist Initiative, spoke on behalf of the NGO to highlight the need to effectively combat violence against women, and to ensure full recognition of their rights. Established in Kenya in 2002, the non-profit organization is recognized for its promotion of gender equality, social justice and human rights. Through an innovative and inclusive approach, it tackles gender-based negative cultural practices and stereotypes, including seeking to involve men, boys and community leaders more in the work of the organization.


2016 – Federal Research and Methodological Center for Tolerance Psychology and Education (Tolerance Center; Russian Federation)

The Federal Research and Methodological Center for Tolerance, Psychology and Education (Tolerance Center) of the Russian Federation is the laureate of the 2016 UNESCO-Madanjeet Singh Prize for the Promotion of Tolerance and Non-Violence. Nada Al-Nashif, Assistant Director-General of UNESCO for Social and Human Sciences, and France Marquet, Principal Trustee of the Madanjeet Singh Foundation, awarded the Prize during a musically filled ceremony held at UNESCO Headquarters in Paris on 16 November 2016, on the occasion of the International Day for Tolerance.

The Tolerance Center received the Prize in recognition of its wide range of activities, which include research and educational programmes to promote dialogue between religions and worldviews with a particular focus on youth.

Congratulating the Tolerance Center as “an innovative educational platform designed to ensure respect for human diversity,” Nada Al-Nashif emphasized that “education is a powerful vehicle to counter fear and exclusion as it develops capacities for independent judgment, critical thinking and ethical reasoning, raising awareness of people’s shared rights and freedoms. (…) We must build societies based on respect for human rights, where fear, mistrust and marginalization give way to pluralism, participation and respect for diversity. Tolerance also teaches us the values of empathy, responsiveness and social justice – tenets that bring to bear positive social transformations.”

Receiving the award on behalf of the Tolerance Center, Alexander Boroda, Director-General, highlighted the relevance of “spreading the ideas of tolerance… about national, religious, racial, inter-class, gender and political tolerance, respect for people with disabilities, acceptance of people with different worldviews.” He underscored that today the word tolerance should not be “limited only to the meaning of willingness to put up with the existence of a cultural community near you,” but tolerance also means to move towards harmony.

The Tolerance Center has successfully implemented more than 60 unique educational programmes on tolerance in more than 60 cities throughout Russia, involving more than one million young people. It has achieved significant success, proving its effectiveness in the prevention of xenophobia and extremism.

Nadia Bernoussi, President of the International Jury, Professor at the École Nationale d’Administration of Rabat, congratulated the Tolerance Center, which distinguished itself from a multitude of outstanding candidatures owing to its innovative and creative methods to foster dialogue, understanding and empathy towards “the other”. She emphasized that this distinction comes at a time when the ideals of tolerance and non-violence are being denied especially to the most vulnerable, and when regression has become a universal challenge that cuts across societies.

France Marquet recalled the illustrious life of Madanjeet Singh, benefactor of the Prize, from his imprisonment during the independence movement in India to his diplomatic posts in 17 countries, highlighting that those experiences drew him to promote the values of tolerance and non-violence that he professed.

During the ceremony, the public was treated to a series of musical interludes from Serguei Markarov, pianist and UNESCO Artist for Peace, and the International Philharmonic Choir, UNESCO Artist for Peace.

Celebrating its 20th anniversary and its tenth edition this year, the UNESCO-Madanjeet Singh Prize rewards significant activities in the scientific, artistic, cultural and communication fields aimed at the promotion of a spirit of tolerance and non-violence.


2014 – Ibrahim Ag Idbaltanat (Mali) and Francisco Javier Estévez Valencia (Chile)

UNESCO’s Director-General Irina Bokova has designated two grassroots peace-builders and human rights activists - Ibrahim Ag Idbaltanat from Mali and Francisco Javier Estevez Valencia from Chile – the winners of the 2014 UNESCO-Madanjeet Singh Prize for the Promotion of Tolerance and Non-Violence. The US$ 100,000 award will be divided equally between the two laureates, who were selected by the International Jury. The Director-General will award the Prize at the ceremony that will be held at UNESCO Headquarters in Paris on 14 November 2014. On this occasion, the International Philharmonic Choir and Orchestra, UNESCO’s Artists for Peace, will give a free public concert to celebrate the International Day for Tolerance (16 November).

Ibrahim Ag Idbaltanat (Mali), Founder and President of two non-governmental organizations - GARI (Groupement des artisans ruraux de Intadeyné – Group of Rural Artisans of Intadeyné) and TEMEDT (“Placenta”), has worked for years for the peaceful settlement of conflicts in the northern regions of Mali between sedentary and nomadic populations.

He has combatted tirelessly social inequality to end the descent-based slavery among Tuareg communities.

In 1992, he found a peaceful solution to a deadly conflict between the Imajoren and the Daoussahak communities of the Circle of Ménaka region in the eastern part of Mali through dialogue and negotiation, stopping the killing of people and saving many human lives.

He has worked bravely to advance social development of the Tuareg communities and modernization of Malian society through the provision of access to basic social services and education of the most marginalized and disadvantaged groups of society, including women, children, and people of slave descent.

In 1980, he interrupted his university studies at the Ecole normale supérieure of Bamako to become a teacher in his native town of Ménaka in order to prevent the closure of the school where children from families of the nomadic Tuareg populations studied.

In 1986, he constructed with his own hands a primary school for children from the poorest, most deprived families in the region of Intadeyné, and spared no efforts to convince local communities that school education is the best way for children to break the cycle of poverty, exclusion and deprivation. In 1987, he founded a grassroots organization GARI which, since that time, has been providing support for small communities scattered throughout the region by creating schools as a way to offer an alternative view of life to children of families of black Tuaregs working in the homes of while Tuaregs.

Ibrahim Ag Idbaltanat has campaigned against stigma and discrimination linked to the slave caste identity and assisted communities to reconsider and redefine what it means to be a Tuareg.

He has given his voice to the voiceless and most disadvantaged. His peaceful, tolerant and open discourse, as well as his knowledge and respect for traditional values, helped him to be accepted by different social groups and to change the mentality of his fellow citizens.

In 2006, he created TEMEDT, which developed multiple activities under his leadership to raise awareness about the existing inequalities among communities affected by slavery. These actions have reached a large number of populations and directly helped liberate and support dozens of people through the provision of legal advice to victims of slavery practices, training on anti-slavery legislation for magistrates and working for legal reform to criminalize slavery practices.

Ibrahim Ag Idbaltanat is awarded the 2014 UNESCO-Madanjeet Singh Prize in recognition of his outstanding commitment to dialogue and non-violence as a way to resolve conflicts in society.

Francisco Javier Estévez Valencia (Chile) is an eminent civil society activist, historian, Professor at the University of Chile, who started his non-violent struggle for human rights and democracy during the years of the dictatorship of Augusto Pinochet and became one of the well-known leaders of the democratic resistance of young Chileans.

After the return of democracy in Chile, he made a significant contribution to the work of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission as Vice-President of a major citizen campaign “Para Creer en Chile’”.

For years, he investigated and denounced human rights violations and worked for the preparation of the constitutional accusation of General Pinochet, which was rejected by the Parliament but taken into consideration during the legal proceedings in London.

In 1994, he founded the non-profit-making civil society organization Fundacíon Ideas (the Chilean Ideas Foundation). As its Executive Director since that time, he has made a significant contribution to building a culture of human rights, democracy and peace at the national, regional and international levels through education and awareness-raising activities, as well as public campaigns, which empower those who are not heard in their struggle for dignity and justice.

As coordinator of the Cinta Amarillacitizen campaign, he contributed to the abolition of the death penalty in Chile in 2001, and to the removal from the public space of monuments symbolizing the military regime.

Francisco Javier Estévez Valencia is awarded the 2014 UNESCO-Madanjeet Singh Prize in recognition of his longstanding commitment and tireless work to promote respect for human rights, based on the principles of tolerance and non­violence, in order to build a more harmonious and inclusive society, with peace and prosperity, and a world with equal opportunities for all.


2011 – Anarkali Honaryar (Afghanistan) and Khaled Abu Awwad (Palestine)

Anarkali Honaryar (Afghanistan) is rewarded for her commitment and tireless work to improve the conditions of women and minority groups in Afghanistan and to promote the ideals of human dignity, human rights, mutual respect and tolerance. Anarkali Honaryar received public recognition for helping women who suffer from domestic abuse, forced marriages and gender discrimination. She is also known for advocating the rights of Afghanistan’s minorities. After the parliamentary elections of 2010, Honaryar became the first non-Muslim woman member of Afghanistan's Wolesi Jirga, the lower house of parliament.

Khaled Abu Awwad (Palestine) is cited for his efforts to promote tolerance, peace and non-violence through his work as a peace activist and leader in the reconciliation process between Palestinians and Israelis. Active on both sides of the Israeli Palestinian divide, Abu Awwad is the General Manager of the Palestinian Branch of the Parents Circle Families Forum (PCFF), an organization of Palestinians and Israelis who have lost immediate family members in the conflict. In 2006, he - along with other leaders and prominent members of the Palestinian peace movement – founded AI-Tariq (The Way), the Palestinian Institution for Development and Democracy, of which he has been the manager and Executive Director since 2006.


2009 – François Houtart (Belgium) and Abdul Sattar Edhi (Pakistan)

François Houtart (Belgium) received the award for his life-long commitment to world peace, intercultural dialogue, human rights and the promotion of tolerance, and in recognition of his outstanding efforts to advance the cause of social justice in the world. He is an ardent promoter of North-South cooperation and the founder of the Tri-Continental Centre (CETRI), a non-governmental organization renowned for its work on development issues and in the International Council of the World Social Forum. Known throughout his life as a defender of human rights, he has contributed significantly to the advancement of the inter-faith and inter-cultural dialogue. As a noted sociologist of religions and theology, he has authored numerous publications and given lectures in over 100 universities around the world.

Abdul Sattar Edhi (Pakistan) received the award for his life-long efforts to ameliorate the conditions of the most disadvantaged groups in Pakistan and South Asia, and to promote the ideals of human dignity, human rights, mutual respect and tolerance. He 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.


2006 – Veerasingham Anandasangaree, President of the Tamil United Liberation Front (TULF, Sri Lanka)

A tireless defender of democracy and peaceful conflict resolution, Veerasingham Anandasangaree has helped improve knowledge of the Tamul cause, through dialogue, through the promotion of non-violent solutions in Sri Lanka and by taking a stand against terrorism.


2004 – Taslima Nasreen, writer (Bangladesh)


2002 – Aung San Suu Kyi (Myanmar)

Daw Aung San Suu Kyi, the leader of Myanmar’s National League for Democracy received the 2002 UNESCO-Mandanjeet Singh Prize for Tolerance and Non-Violence. The Director-General of UNESCO, Irina Bokova, welcomed Myanmar’s ambitious reform programme, which made it possible for Aung San Suu Kyi to receive the Prize: “UNESCO welcomes the government of Myanmar’s comprehensive programme of democratization and reform and we are determined to accompany this process in our fields of competence,” said the Director-General. “Together, we are working on projects in education, culture and media development, sectors which are essential for dialogue, reconciliation and development,” she said.


2000 – Pope Shenouda III, the head of Egypt’s Coptic Orthodox Church (Egypt)


1998 – Narayan Desai, educator and peace activist of India (India) and Joint Action Committee for People's Rights of Pakistan (Pakistan)


1996 – Association of 32 non-governmental women’s organizations "Pro-femmes Twese Hamwe" (Rwanda)


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