UNESCO gives President Wade of Senegal the 2005 Houphouët-Boigny Peace prize
With eight national presidents in attendance, Senegalese President Abdoulaye Wade, co- founder of the New Partnership for Africa's Development (NEPAD), today received the 2005 Houphouët-Boigny Peace Prize from the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization’s (UNESCO) Director-General Koïchiro Matsuura and the jury president, former U.S. Secretary of State and Nobel peace laureate Henry Kissinger.
It is the second time the award, created in 1989, has gone to Africa. Nelson Mandela and Frederik W. De Klerk won in 1991.
The prize honours people and institutions which have contributed significantly to the promotion, research or safeguarding of peace while complying with the Charter of the United Nations and UNESCO’s constitution. It was named for the first president of Côte d’Ivoire, the late Félix Houphouët-Boigny.
Born in 1926 in Saint-Louis du Sénégal, President Wade is a lawyer and former dean of the law faculty of the University of Dakar. He has served as Member of Parliament and as a Government minister and was elected to the presidency in March, 2000.
Speakers lauded the role of President Wade in the management, prevention and mediation of conflicts in Africa and in contributing to the continent’s education, development and culture.
“Since your entry into politics in 1974 […] that took you from the opposition to the leadership of your country, you have worked for the modernization of Senegal’s political life, by placing education and culture at the heart of public action. Under your guidance, Senegal has become a model in the domain (of Education for All), devoting almost 40 per cent of the national budget to education,” Mr. Matsuura said.
“You have also breathed new life into the renaissance of the African continent, working side by side with your peers to construct the New Partnership for African Development (NEPAD), an innovative pact of solidarity and hope,” he added.
Welcoming the awarding of the prize this year to a son of Africa, whose “political change was carried out in a climate of peace and cooperation” and “who has become an example for other countries in Africa and the world,” Mr. Kissinger said: “The prize is given to President Abdoulaye Wade for his contribution to democracy in his country and for his mediation in political crises and conflicts in Africa.”
“This distinction is not for me alone,” President Wade said. “The man having been shaped by his cultural milieu, merit must be first attributed to my people; the Senegalese people who have inculcated in me their universal values of tolerance and peace.”
Previous winners include Yitzhak Rabin, Shimon Peres and Yasser Arafat for 1993; King Juan Carlos of Spain and former US President Jimmy Carter for 1994, the Office of the UN High Commissioner for Refugees and its High Commissioner, Sadako Ogata, for 1995 and former UN High Commissioner for Human Rights and former President of Ireland Mary Robinson for 2000.