Former German chancellor Angela Merkel has been awarded the 2022 UNESCO Peace Prize. The honour, which is officially called Félix Houphouët-Boigny UNESCO Peace Prize, is named after the first president of Ivory Coast.
All the members of the jury were touched by her courageous decision in 2015 to welcome more than 1.2 million refugees, notably from Syria, Iraq, Afghanistan and Eritrea.
In 2015, Merkel uttered three words that would transform her into an international political icon: “Wir schaffen das!” (We can do it!). For hundreds of thousands of Syrians fleeing the civil war in their country, Merkel’s words offered hope.
The jury also awarded an honourable mention to Julienne Lusenge for her commitment to the women who were victims of sexual violence. Known for her work in North Kivu in the Democratic Republic of Congo, she denounced the use of rape as a “weapon of war” and is a defender of women’s rights.
UNESCO Peace Prize
UNESCO Peace Prize is intended to honour living individuals and active public or private bodies or institutions that have made a significant contribution to promoting, seeking, safeguarding or maintaining peace, in conformity with the Charter of the United Nations and the Constitution of UNESCO.
The Prize was established in 1989 by a resolution supported by 120 countries and adopted by the General Conference of UNESCO at its 25th session. It is in line with the philosophy of UNESCO’s founders who, in the preamble to the Organisation’s Constitution, solemnly declare that: “Since wars begin in the minds of men and women, it is in the minds of men and women that the defences of peace must be constructed.”
Nelson Mandela and Frederik W. De Klerk were the first laureates of UNESCO Félix Houphouët-Boigny Peace Prize in 1992.