Thursday, November 29, 2012

South Africa's Archbishop Desmond Tutu wins UNESCO/Bilbao prize for human rights promotion

Desmond Tutu wins UNESCO

 Director-General of UNESCO Irina Bokova has designated South Africa's Archbishop Desmond Tutu, 90 as the winner of the 2012 UNESCO/Bilbao Prize for the Promotion of a Culture of Human Rights, the UN agency announced in a statement.

Archbishop Tutu was selected by an international jury in recognition of his outstanding contribution to building a universal culture of human rights at national, regional and international levels and his dedication to the work of the United Nations and UNESCO on various human rights issues.

The archbishop was appreciated by the jury for the outstanding role he played "in building the new democratic, non-racial South Africa and his invaluable contribution as Chairperson of South Africa's Truth and Reconciliation Commission, to national reconstruction which became a model for other post-conflict societies," the UNESCO statement said.

The prize will be awarded on Dec. 10, the Human Rights Day, by Director-General Bokova at UNESCO's Paris Headquarters. Archbishop Tutu will be represented by his eldest daughter Thandeka Tutu-Gxashe.

The biennial UNESCO/Bilbao Prize for the Promotion of a Culture of Human Rights was established in 2008 thanks to a generous endowment from the City of Bilbao. It rewards outstanding contributions made by organizations and individuals to the cause of human rights through education and research.

Archbishop Desmond Tutu was born in 1931 in Klerksdorp, Transvaal. His father was a teacher, and he himself was educated at Johannesburg Bantu High School. After leaving school he trained first as a teacher at Pretoria Bantu Normal College and in 1954 he graduated from the University of South Africa. After three years as a high school teacher he began to study theology, being ordained as a priest in 1960. The years 1962-66 were devoted to further theological study in England leading up to a Master of Theology. From 1967 to 1972 he taught theology in South Africa before returning to England for three years as the assistant director of a theological institute in London. In 1975 he was appointed Dean of St. Mary's Cathedral in Johannesburg, the first black to hold that position. From 1976 to 1978 he was Bishop of Lesotho, and in 1978 became the first black General Secretary of the South African Council of Churches. Tutu is an honorary doctor of a number of leading universities in the USA, Britain and Germany.

Desmond Tutu has formulated his objective as "a democratic and just society without racial divisions", and has set forward the following points as minimum demands:

1. equal civil rights for all
2. the abolition of South Africa's passport laws
3. a common system of education
4. the cessation of forced deportation from South Africa to the so-called "homelands"


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