UN envoy for war-affected children gets peace award

12 May 2005

Olara Otunnu, the United Nations envoy dealing with war-affected children, has been awarded the 2005 Sydney Peace Prize for his lifetime commitment to human rights and efforts to protect youngsters in time of conflict.

Professor Stuart Rees, Director of the Sydney Peace Foundation, said the jury had been impressed by Mr. Otunnu's passionate commitment, advocacy and initiatives to protect the most innocent and most vulnerable members of a community – children.

As Secretary-General Kofi Annan's Special Representative for Children and Armed Conflict, Mr. Otunnu has travelled the world negotiating to end the use of child soldiers and other violations.

His recent report acknowledges that there is continued targeting and brutalization of children in situations of armed conflict, including their killing, maiming, use as child soldiers, rape and abduction, and refers to a "human-made catastrophe of tsunami proportions."

"Those who destroy the children are destroying the future of our societies. We must stop this process of self destruction," he said.

Previous recipients of the Sydney Peace Prize have included Professor Muhammad Yunus, founder of the Grameen Bank for the Poor; Archbishop Emeritus Desmond Tutu of South Africa; President Xanana Gusmão of Timor-Leste; former Governor-General of Australia Sir William Deane; former UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Mary Robinson; the Palestinian academic and human rights campaigner, Hanan Ashrawi and, last year, the Indian writer Arundhati Roy.

Mr. Otunnu will deliver the City of Sydney Peace Prize Lecture in the Seymour Centre on 3 November and will receive the Peace Prize in a gala ceremony the next day.

 

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