Nearly a decade after it was conferred, a prestigious United Nations award for promoting peace and tolerance has finally been presented to its winner, Myanmarese democracy campaigner Aung San Suu Kyi.
Ms. Suu Kyi was chosen for the UNESCO-Madanjeet Singh Prize for the Promotion of Tolerance and Non-Violence in 2002, but it is only now that the Myanmar government has allowed her to accept the award carrying a prize of $1,00,000.
On November 16—the United Nations Day of Tolerance — UNESCO arranged a video conference with Ms. Suu Kyi for handing over a cheque for the amount, while announcing the awardees of the 2011 UNESCO- Madanjeet Singh Prize.
In a video message of congratulations on her acceptance of the prize amount in Yangon (Myanmar), Mr. Madanjeet Singh, UNESCO Goodwill Ambassador and founder of the prize, pointed to the initiative of the South Asia Foundation (SAF) in establishing a UNESCO Madanjeet Singh institute of excellence in the proposed Nalanda University, on the lines of the 12 institutions established in the eight SAARC countries.
He requested Ms. Suu Kyi to become the Chief Patron of the Madanjeet Singh institute of excellence that would be devoted to Theravada studies, modelled on a similar institute set up in Kashmir for studies of Sufi-Bhakti-Rishi culture.
UNESCO has also decided that during the award ceremony slated at its Paris headquarters for December 9, a special tribute would be paid to the Nobel Peace Laureate along with the presentation of video messages by Ms. Suu Kyi and Mr. Madanjeet Singh.
Other eminent personalities expected to attend the ceremony include French diplomat and human rights activist Stéphane Hessel, laureate of the UNESCO-Bilbao Prize for the Promotion of a Culture of Human Rights, and Boutros Boutros-Ghali, the former Secretary-General of the U.N..
Turkish philosopher Ioanna Kuçuradi, the Chairperson of the International Jury of the UNESCO-Madanjeet Singh Prize, and the two laureates for 2011, Anarkali Honaryar and Khaled Abu Awwad, will take the floor during the event.