UNESCO’s Director-General Irina Bokova has designated two grassroots peace-builders and human rights activists - Ibrahim Ag Idbaltanat from Mali and Francisco Javier Estevez Valencia from Chile - winners of the 2014 UNESCO-Madanjeet Singh Prize for the Promotion of Tolerance and Non-Violence. The US$ 100,000 award will be divided equally between the two laureates, who were selected by the International Jury. The Director-General will award the Prize at the ceremony that will be held at UNESCO Headquarters in Paris on 14 November 2014. On this occasion, the International Philharmonic Choir and Orchestra, UNESCO’s Artists for Peace, will give a free public concert to celebrate the International Day for Tolerance (16 November).
Ibrahim Ag Idbaltanat (Mali)
Ibrahim Ag Idbaltanat (Mali), founder and President of two non-governmental organizations - GARI (Groupement des artisans ruraux de Intadeyné – Group of Rural Artisans of Intadeyné) and TEMEDT (“Placenta”), has worked for years for the peaceful settlement of conflicts in the northern regions of Mali between sedentary and nomadic populations.
He has combatted tirelessly social inequality to end the descent-based slavery among Tuareg communities.
In 1992, he found a peaceful solution to a deadly conflict between the Imajoren and the Daoussahak communities of the Circle of Ménaka region in the eastern part of Mali through dialogue and negotiation, stopping the killing of people and saving many human lives.
He has worked bravely to advance social development of the Tuareg communities and modernization of Malian society through provision of access to basic social services and education of the most marginalized and disadvantaged groups of society, including women, children, and people of slave descent.
In 1980, he interrupted his university studies at the Ecole normale supérieure of Bamako to become a teacher in his native town of Ménaka in order to prevent the closure of the school where children from families of the nomadic Tuareg populations studied.
In 1986, he constructed with his own hands a primary school for children from the poor and most deprived families in the region of Intadeyné and spared no efforts to convince local communities that school education is the best way for children to break the cycle of poverty, exclusion and deprivation. In 1987, he founded a grassroots organization GARI which, since that time, has been providing support for small communities scattered throughout the region by creating schools as a way to offer an alternative view of life to children of families of black Tuaregs working in the homes of while Tuaregs.
Mr Ag Idbaltanat has campaigned against stigma and discrimination linked to the slave caste identity and assisted communities to reconsider and redefine what it means to be a Tuareg.
He has given his voice to the voiceless and most disadvantages. Because of his peaceful, tolerant and open discourse, as well as his knowledge and respect of the traditional values, he was accepted in different groups of society and walks of life and succeeded in influencing the change of mentality of his fellow citizens.
In 2006, he created TEMEDT, which developed multiple activities under his leadership to raise awareness about the existing inequalities among communities affected by slavery. These actions have reached a large number of populations and directly helped liberate and support dozens of people through the provision of legal advice to victims of slavery practices, training on anti-slavery legislation for magistrates and working for legal reform to criminalize slavery practices.
Mr Ibrahim Ag Idbaltanat is awarded the 2014 UNESCO-Madanjeet Singh Prize in recognition of his outstanding commitment to dialogue and non-violence as a way to resolve conflicts in society.
Francisco Javier Estévez Valencia (Chile)
Francisco Javier Estévez Valencia (Chile) is an eminent civil society activist, historian, Professor at the University of Chile, who started his non-violent struggle for human rights and democracy during the years of the dictatorship of Augusto Pinochet and became one of the well-known leaders of the democratic resistance of young Chileans.
After the return of democracy in Chile, he made a significant contribution to the work of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission as Vice-President of a major citizen campaign “Para Creer en Chile’”.
For years he investigated and denounced human rights violations and worked for the preparation of the constitutional accusation of General Pinochet, which was rejected by the Parliament but taken into consideration during the legal proceedings in London.
In 1994, he founded the non-profit making civil society organization Fundacíon Ideas (the Chilean Ideas Foundation). As its Executive Director since that time, he has made a significant contribution to building a culture of human rights, democracy and peace at the national, regional and international levels through education and awareness—raising activities, as well as public campaignswhich empower those who are not heard in their struggle for dignity and justice.
As coordinator of the Cinta Amarillacitizen campaign he contributed to the abolition of the death penalty in Chile in 2001; and to the removal from the public space of monuments symbolizing the military regime.
Mr. Estévez Valencia is awarded the 2014 UNESCO-Madanjeet Singh Prize in recognition of his longstanding commitment and tireless work to promote respect for human rights, based on the principles of tolerance and nonviolence, in order to build a more harmonious and inclusive society, with peace and prosperity, and a world with equal opportunities for all.