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World Summit 2019: Sunhak Peace Prize Award Ceremony

KOREA-2019-WS-Feb9-Session V: Sunhak Laureates

Related links: World Summit Day 1, World Summit Day 2, World Summit Testimonies, World Summit Schedule

February 9 – The 2019 Sunhak Peace Prize Ceremony

On February 9, 2019, over 1,200 guests and leaders from around the globe, including current and former heads of state, gathered in Seoul, Korea, to honor the recipients of the third Sunhak Peace Prize. This year, the prize was awarded based on the theme “Peace and Human Development in Africa.” From the hundreds of nominees, two were selected who, through their work and dedication, embodied the Founders’ vision of “One Family Under God” and “Making the World Better for Future Generations.”

Dr. Il Sik Hong, chairman of the Sunhak Peace Prize Committee opened the session by expressing his sincere admiration of the laureates, emphasizing that peace can be achieved only when everyone’s human rights can be protected and respected. Dr. Hong proudly expressed that this year’s laureates have dedicated their lives to protecting the most vulnerable people in Africa and the world.

Laureate Dr. Akinwumi Adesina, president of the African Development Bank, has promoted a vision of good governance for African nations. He has implemented innovative agricultural and anticorruption policies in Nigeria and all across Africa.

Laureate Waris Dirie has improved the rights of millions of girls and women by leading a campaign to eradicate the tragic act of female genital mutilation. Moving video presentations were played to a captive audience highlighting the achievements and visions of the recipients.

Dr. Adesina started his acceptance speech by commending the founder, Dr. Hak Ja Han Moon, for setting up the Sunhak Peace Prize to underscore her work to make the world a better place. The ideal that Sunhak stands for, he said, is a world where we live in peace with one another, is not only the decent thing to do—it is a moral imperative. 

Dr. Adesina expressed his driving belief that there cannot be peace in a world that is hungry. “When the ego and pride of the mighty clash, the consequences are felt by the weakest among us: children. They do not create wars, but the world’s children suffer the most from them.” In order to achieve his goal, Dr. Adesina had to fight corruption, cutting off middlemen who for decades benefitted from government contracts while the poor were drained. He announced that he is donating the whole of the $500,000 award of the Sunhak Peace Prize to his Foundation, the World Hunger Fighters Foundation, to carry on “the Lord’s request to provide ‘daily bread’ for everyone around our world.”

Ms. Waris Dirie, Somali-born human rights activist against female genital mutilation, opened with her very first childhood memory. It was of violence against her mother. The instinct that there was no good in what she saw put her on the quest for peace. In the family, between neighbors, friends, nations and the world, she explained, the problems of female genital mutilation and all other injustices are issues of respect: “Everyone deserves respect from each other. We don’t learn that lesson from the recurring history of violence and abuse. Mother nature is sick, people are greedy; we hurt each other. All have the same root cause.” Ms. Dirie called on the audience to leave a better world for future generations, which we can accomplish through understanding, respect and acceptance.

Ambassador Kenneth M. Quinn, president of the World Food Prize Foundation, gave a congratulatory message. As the second decade of the 21st century draws to a close, it is clear, he said, that the single greatest challenge that the human species has ever confronted is to nutritiously and sustainably feed the 9 to 10 billion people who will be on Earth by the year 2050, especially given the impact of climate change and global events.

Ambassador Quinn went on to say that essential to fulfilling these challenges is preserving and elevating the human dignity of all, particularly the poorest and most malnourished, among them, women and children. Of all the world’s regions, Africa offers the most difficult challenge of harmonizing all these diverse factors due to its broad array of geographic subdivisions and multiple political leaders. It will be in Africa that the greatest challenge in all human history will ultimately be decided. Can a peaceful Africa feed itself? He further explained that at one African Investment Conference he organized, Dr. Adesina mesmerized the attendees, imbuing them with the answer, “Yes, Africa can!” 

H.E. Syenab Abdi Moallim, first lady of Somalia, started her congratulatory speech by reflecting on the thousands of years that the cruel act of female genital mutilation has been practiced. She explained that in the face of many threats against Ms. Dirie, she has persisted in devoting her life to improve the lives of girls and women, at the risk of her own life. Although being a victim herself, Ms. Dirie became a supermodel and used her fame to fight against this cruel practice. She has sacrificed her life, which could have been a life of luxury. First Lady Moallim expressed sincere and heartfelt congratulations to Ms. Dirie, who has been walking this path alone. “Ms. Dirie, now you are not alone. I want to join you in building a world of peace.”

To finish the session, First Lady Moallim congratulated the Sunhak Peace Prize Foundation on awarding individuals and organizations that live for the sake of others and for the benefit of future generations. She observed that this is the vision of Reverend and Dr. Moon, whose ideals are embodied in this prize. This prize, he said, is a great and glorious way to uplift the best qualities of humanity.

The program ended with an uplifting collaboration of entertainment that featured peace-themed dances by the Expression Crew, singing by Sohyun Kim and Joon-ho Son, and the finale with The Little Angels in “Circle of Life.” For more information about the Sunhak Peace Prize and this year’s laureates, please visit sunhakpeaceprize.org.

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