UNICEF (United Nations Children’s Fund)

Fund of the United Nations

AWARD LAUREATES | UNICEF (United Nations Children’s Fund)


UNICEF (United Nations Children’s Fund)

Fund of the United Nations

UNICEF (United Nations Children’s Fund) is a United Nations organisation which works to defend and promote children’s rights through specific programmes and delegations. It is the world’s leading advocate for children and operates around the central notion that all children should have several basic rights. These include: a right to adequate nutrition, a right to education, a right to health, a right to participate, a right to protection and a right to clean water. UNICEF was formed by the United Nations General Assembly in 1946 (becoming a permanent member in 1953) in order to provide food and healthcare to those children whose countries had been heavily affected by World War Two. In 1959, UNICEF worked to adopt the Declaration of the Rights of the Child which acted to establish children’s rights to protection, education, healthcare, shelter and nutrition; principles which continue to define the organisation today. In 1965, UNICEF was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize for the ‘promotion of brotherhood amongst nations’. In 1979, the same year that marked the International Year of the Child and saw countries reaffirm their commitment to children’s rights, Gold Mercury International recognised UNICEF for their sustained efforts in upholding children’s rights. In 1982 UNICEF launched the Child Survival and Development Revolution which was based on four simple techniques: growth monitoring, oral rehydration therapy, breastfeeding and immunisation; these would assist in saving the lives of millions of children each year. In 1989, the Convention on the Rights of the Child was adopted by the UN General Assembly. The popularity of the treaty made it the most widely accepted human rights treaty in history. The following years were focused on setting goals for children’s health as well as attempting to draw attention to the effect of war and conflict on children. Today, with staff in over 390 countries and territories, most of UNIECEF’s work is done in the field and lends to a more practical hands on approach as they seek to uphold children’s rights on a global scale.

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Rajsoomer Lallah

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Rajsoomer Lallah

Lawyer and Judge

Judge Rajsoomer Lallah was a prominent Mauritian lawyer and judge. Born in Mauritius, in 1933, he obtained a bachelor’s degree in Jurisprudence from Oxford University in 1957 and then continued his studies at Middle Temple in order to become a Barrister. In 1960 he completed his studies with a MA in Law at Oxford University. Upon his return to Mauritius, Mr Lallah was appointed Deputy to the Electoral Commissioner, with his duties including registering electors, drafting electoral regulations and administering the general elections. In 1970, Mr Lallah became the Special Adviser at the Commonwealth Secretariat and in this role he provided legal advice to Commonwealth governments. This advice was wide ranging, from taxation, independence negotiations, resource development and negotiation with multinational companies. In 1976 he became a Queen’s Counsel, Assistant Solicitor General in Mauritius, and Vice Chairman of the United Nations Human Rights Committee. He also progressed to serve as the Committee’s Rapporteur and Chairman. In 1978, he became Parliamentary Counsel and then in following year he was elected as Pro Chancellor and Chairman of the Council of The University of Mauritius. In 1980, he was chosen to become a Judge of the Supreme Court of Mauritius whilst also involving himself in managing UN human rights assessments. Judge Lallah’s activities within the UN saw him examine human rights cases in Chile, industrial complaints in Nigeria and genocide claims in Cambodia. He also assisted in forming a post-apartheid constitution for South Africa in 1991. Following his retirement from the Supreme Court in 1995 Judge Lallah continued to work for the UN, serving as Special Rapporteur in Myanmar from 1996 to 2000.

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Poul Hartling

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Poul Hartling

Former Danish Prime Minister and UN High Commissioner for Refugees

Poul Hartling was presented with the Gold Mercury Award for International Law & Humanitarian Affairs in 1982. He was a member of the Liberal Party of Denmark, serving as Foreign Minister from 1968 to 1971 in the cabinet of Hilmar Baunsgaard. Mr Hartling became Prime Minster of Denmark in 1973 after the Danish Social Democratic Party Government of Anker Jørgensen was unable to form a government following the 1973 election. He served as Prime Minster from 1973 to 1975 until the Social Democrats regained the leadership of Denmark. In 1978, Mr Hartling became the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees, a post he held for eight years. During his time as High Commissioner, the issue of refugees had become a major issue due to the escalation of the Cold War. Furthermore, the mass exodus in Indochina and the lack of an international response to the issue meant the UNHCR had to lead complex and highly politicised humanitarian operation. Other high profile relief operations undertaken by UNHCR, under the direction of Mr Hartling included finding relief for refugees in the Horn of Africa and Central America, as well as for Afghan refugees in Asia. In 1981 UNICEF was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize, an award Mr Hartling accepted on behalf of the organisation.

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Miguel Obando Bravo

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Miguel Obando Bravo

Cardinal and Archbishop

Archbishop and Cardinal Miguel Obando Bravo was awarded the Gold Mercury International Award in 1981 for his tireless work as a human rights defender. He was born in La Libertad, Nicaragua, in 1926 and was ordained a priest on August 10, 1958. In 1968, he was appointed Titular Bishop of Puzia di Bizacena and Auxiliary Bishop of Matagalpa. It was during this time that in Matagalpa that he dedicated his pastoral care to the Campesinos and their urgent problems. In 1970 he was promoted to the position of Archbishop of Managua. Archbishop Obando Bravo became a key figure in Nicaraguan politics during the 1970′s, due to his vocal criticism of the corrupt Anastasio Somoza regime. He questioned the government’s management of relief funds following the 1972 Managua Earthquake and highlighted human rights abuses which were being carried out by the National Guard. Archbishop Obando Bravo retained a peaceful stance, however, and acted as an intermediary between the Sandinista National Liberation Front (FSLN) and the Somoza government during Sandinista hostage-taking incidents. He was also critical of the Sandinista revolutionary government’s policies and their human rights violations. Archbishop Obando Bravo’s commitment to peaceful resolutions and his desire to preserve human rights ensured he was popular amongst many Nicaraguans and led him to become a Gold Mercury International laureate.

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Marcelino Oreja Aguirre

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Marcelino Oreja Aguirre

Former Spanish Foreign Minister and Secretary General of the Council of Europe

Marcelino Oreja Aguirre was a Spanish politician and businessman who served as the Spanish Foreign Minister, Secretary General of the Council of Europe and European Commissioner during his illustrious career. Born in 1935 in Madrid, he studied Law at the University of Salamanca and later received his Doctorate from the University of Madrid. By 1973 he had embarked on his political career, founding the group Tacitus and two years later he became the Undersecretary of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs. A year later in 1976 he was appointed Foreign Minister. In this role, Mr Oreja Aguirre was involved in the signing of the Declaration of Human Rights at the United Nations, as well as overseeing Spain’s entrance into the Council of Europe. In 1983, he was put forward as a candidate for the Spanish government to the Secretariat General of the Council of Europe and the following year he was appointed Secretary General, a role he held for five years. In 1989 he was elected to the European Parliament and by 1994 he had become the European Commissioner for Transport and Energy before then becoming the European Commissioner for Institutional Relations and Communication Strategy. He retired from political life at the end of his mandate; however he still plays an active role as a member of the Spanish Royal Academy of Moral and Political Sciences as well as the Spanish Royal Academy of Jurisprudence and Legislation.

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Kerry Kennedy

AWARD LAUREATES | Kerry Kennedy


Kerry Kennedy

Founder of the Robert F. Kennedy Memorial Center for Human Rights and Chairman of “Speak Truth to Power” Programme

Kerry Kennedy was recognised with the 2006 Gold Mercury Humanitarian Award for her work as an internationally renowned human rights activist, the Founder of both The Robert F Kennedy Memorial Center for Human Rights and the “Speak Truth to Power Programme.” Her dedication to raising awareness of human rights over many years has been commendable. She began her work in human rights in 1981 and since this time has led more than 40 delegations to various countries in the search for equal justice. Ms Kennedy established the Robert F. Kennedy Center for Human Rights in 1987 to protect the rights codified under the UN Declaration of Human Rights. Her commitment and work regarding human rights covers diverse issues such as child labour, indigenous land rights, freedom of speech, judicial independence, ethnic violence and women’s rights. Her book  Speak Truth to Power: Human Rights Defenders Who are Changing our World is a powerful representation of those individuals, from more than forty countries who are seeking to advance human rights. The book features interviews with these human rights defenders and is accompanied by powerful portraits by world renowned photographer Eddie Adams.

LAUREATE VIDEO


Kerry Kennedy Awards Acceptance Speech – Part 1

Kerry Kennedy Awards Acceptance Speech – Part 4

Kerry Kennedy Awards Acceptance Speech – Part 2

Kerry Kennedy Awards Acceptance Speech – Part 3

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José Federico Carvajal

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José Federico Carvajal

Former President of The Senate of Spain

Born in 1930, José Federico Carvajal served as the President of the Senate of Spain from 1982 to 1989. Shortly after graduating with a Law degree from the Central University in 1956, he became a member of the International Bar Association, defending numerous cases before the Court of Public Order. From 1954 he was a member of the Spanish Socialist Party (PSOE) and wishing to become more actively involved in politics, he ultimately ran for and was elected as Senator for the province of Ávila in 1977. His successful time as Senator of Ávila led to him eventually being elected Senator of Madrid in 1982 and later that year, President of the Senate of Spain. He held this position for two terms before once again being elected as a senator in the 1986 elections. In 1989 during the general election he was appointed Deputy to the Congress by the province of Madrid where he became a member of the Constitutional Commission.

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International Red Cross

AWARD LAUREATES | International Red Cross


International Red Cross

International Humanitarian Movement

The International Red Cross is the world’s largest humanitarian organisation and aims to provide assistance without discrimination regarding nationality, race, religion, class or political position. It is comprised of several organisations which are legally independent but united under the movement’s common principles. The International Red Cross was created in 1863 when five Swiss men, including Henry Dunant, formed the International Committee for Relief for the Wounded which later became known as the International Committee of the Red Cross. A flag was adopted, a red cross on a white background, an inversion of the Swiss Flag which served as a protective emblem. In 1864, 12 governments adopted the first Geneva Convention which signalled a milestone for humanity and which also granted neutrality for those who were providing medical services on the battlefield. In 1899, The Hague Conventions were adopted at the Second International Peace Conference in The Hague. The laws covered by these conventions extended to wars on land and at sea. The International Red Cross became especially active during World War One as it provided assistance to prisoners of war as well as providing information on captured military personnel. In 1917 their efforts were recognised when the movement won the Nobel Peace Prize. In 1929 the Geneva Conventions were revised to include references to wounded armed forces in the field and prisoners of war. By 1960 there were over 100 National Societies associated with the Red Cross movement, including in former colonies in Africa and Asia. In 1963, in celebration of its centennial, the Red Cross was awarded their third Nobel Peace Prize. In 1990, the UN General Assembly allowed the International Red Cross observer status for its assembly and subcommittee meetings, This was the first time observer status had been granted to a private organisation. In 2004, following the tsunami in South Asia, the International Red Cross embarked on its largest task to date.  More than 22,000 volunteers assisted victims who were without food or shelter and in danger of epidemics. Their Strategy 2020 is currently implemented as the guiding principle for relief activities this decade. It includes strategic aims on saving lives, protecting livelihoods, strengthening recovery from disasters, enabling healthy and safe living, promoting social inclusion and promoting a culture of non-violence.

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H.M. Queen Sofia

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H.M. Queen Sofia

Queen of Spain

H.M. Queen Sofia was granted the Gold Mercury Humanitarian Award in 1984 for her dedication to numerous humanitarian causes. She was born in Athens in 1938, as Princess Sophia of Greece and Denmark and a member of the Schleswig-Holstein-Sonderburg-Glücksburg dynasty. After experiencing a period of time in exile, spent in Egypt and South Africa, she went on to study music, childcare and archaeology in Athens. In 1962 Princess Sofia married Infante Don Juan Carlos de Borbon y Borbon in Athens. In addition to her official Royal engagements, Queen Sofia pursued many solo activities over the years. She established the Queen Sofia Foundation, which has contributed to a variety of humanitarian causes and of which she is Executive President. She has shown particular interest in causes and charities associated with disabilities and drug addiction. She acts as Honorary President of both the Royal Board on Education and Care of Handicapped Persons, as well as the Foundation for Aid for Drug Addicts. She has worked to fight the issue of child slavery and prostitution as well as to promote economic development in third world countries. Her work in highlighting these issues to the world and her commitment to combating them ensures her place as a great champion of human rights.

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Gregorio Peces Barba

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Gregorio Peces Barba

One of Fathers of Spanish Constitution and Former President of the Spanish Congress of Deputies

Gregorio Peces Barba received the 1984 Gold Mercury International Award for International Law & Humanitarian Affairs. He was born in Madrid in 1938 and studied at the Lycée Français. He continued his studies after graduating from Lycée Français by studying Law at the Complutense University, where he also earned his Doctorate cum laude. He embarked on his law career in 1962, before co-launching the magazine ‘Cuadernos para el Dialogo’, which acted as a unifier for professionals who were opposed to the dictatorship of Franco. Mr Peces Barba was a staunch and vocal opponent of Franco’s dictatorship and continually protested on the grounds that Franco was violating human rights and democracy in Spain. It was because of this that in 1971, he was arrested and suspended from the bar. In 1972 he became a member of the Socialist Party (PSOE) and in 1977 he was chosen as the PSOE Deputy for Valladolid. He became one of the seven jurists who wrote the constitution approved in 1978, later becoming known as one of the fathers of the constitution. In 1982 he was re-elected as Deputy for Valladolid and later that year he was also elected to Speaker of the House. In 1986 he resigned from politics to become a teacher at various universities.

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