Ahmed Mohamed Kathrada started his lifelong activism at the age of 13. He was one of the leaders of the non-racial, anti-apartheid struggle. Alongside Walter Sisulu, Nelson Mandela and Oliver Tambo, he spent almost three decades in prison for opposing the apartheid government and mobilising support of ordinary individuals to pursue a just and democratic South Africa. Prior to his imprisonement, he launched the Release Mandela Campaign. Mr Kathrada spent 18 of his 26 years in prison, on Robben Island. He is a retired member of Parliament, and served as President Mandela’s Parliamentary Counsellor during Mandela’s term of office. He is the founder of the Ahmed Kathrada Foundation.
Since July 2011, Nabil El Araby is Secretary General of the League of Arab States. Prior to that, he was Minister of Foreign Affairs of Egypt. A career diplomat, El Araby served as Permanent Representative of Egypt at the United Nations both in Geneva and New York. He presided over the Security Council (June 1996) and served as Vice-President of the UN General Assembly (1993, 1994, 1997). Nabil El Araby is also one of the most eminent international jurists and was a Member of the International Court of Justice (2001-2006).
Former Prime Minister and Foreign Minister of Namibia and current Speaker of the National Assembly of the Republic of Namibia. He was elected as President of the Inter-Parliamentary Union for a three-year mandate in October 2008. Since October 2011, he is Honorary President of the IPU. During his 35 years in the field of international affairs and diplomacy, notably in the UN, he served as President of the 54th Session of the United Nations General Assembly. He was instrumental in driving the UN reform process forward and presided over the drafting of the historic United Nations Millennium Declaration in 2000.
John Bruton is a former Taoiseach (Prime Minister) of Ireland and was engaged in in peace negotiations in Northern Ireland. He was former European Union Ambassador to the United States. He was first elected to the Irish Parliament in 1969 and served there until 2004.
Angela Y. Davis is known internationally for her ongoing work to combat all forms of oppression in the U.S. and abroad. Over the years she has been active as a student, teacher, writer, scholar, and activist/organizer. She is a living witness to the historical struggles of the contemporary era. In 1970 she was placed on the FBI’s Ten Most Wanted List on false charges, and was the subject of an intense police search that drove her underground and culminated in one of the most famous trials in recent U.S. history. During her sixteen-month incarceration, a massive international “Free Angela Davis” campaign was organized, leading to her acquittal in 1972. Professor Davis’s pursues today her long-standing commitment to prisoners’ rights in the USA and worldwide. Today she is Distinguished Professor Emerita in the History of Consciousness and Feminist Studies Departments at the University of California, Santa Cruz. In 1994, she was appointed to the University of California Presidential Chair in African American and Feminist Studies.
A well-known artist, Adolfo Pérez Esquivel gave up teaching and devoted his time to building nonviolent movements for change in Latin America during dictatorship. He was named secretary-general of Servicio Paz y Justicia (Peace and Justice Service or SERPAJ) a group that coordinates nonviolent movements in the region. Because of his work for human rights across Latin America, Adolfo Pérez Esquivel became a target of the military dictatorship. In 1977, he himself was “disappeared” and was imprisoned and tortured by the Argentinean military for 14 months. He was released after being named Amnesty International’s Political Prisoner of the Year in 1978. Adolfo Pérez Esquivel was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize in 1980 for his leadership for human rights and true democracy for the people of Latin America. Upon his release, Adolfo Pérez Esquivel continued his work leading SERPAJ.
Stéphane Hessel is a resistant against nazi regime, a diplomat and Ambassador of France, writer and human rights icon. A tireless defender of international law, he became Honorary President of the Russell Tribunal on Palestine. His book Indignez vous! becomes a global best seller and a source of inspiration for an entire generation seeking political and social justice. His wife Christian Hessel is active internationally for human rights, notably children rights.
Lena Hjelm-Wallen, is the former Deputy Prime Minister and Minister for Foreign Affairs of Sweden. He held several other ministerial positions and was a Member of Parliament 1until 2002. He was chairperson of International Institute for Democracy and Electoral Assistance (2002-2009). She was also President of Olof Palme International Center (2003-2013).
Jose Ramos-Horta was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize in 1996. He served in several senior positions in Timor-Leste, including as Senior Minister of Foreign Affairs, Minister of Defense and Prime Minister before being elected President. He is the author/co-author of books, frequent contributor to major newspapers. He is currently a UN Special Envoy.
Mairead Corrigan Maguire was awarded the l976 Nobel Peace Prize for her extra-ordinary actions to help end the deep ethnic/political conflict in her native Northern Ireland. She shares the award with Betty Williams. Since receiving the award, Mairead has dedicated her life to promoting disarmament and peace, both in Northern Ireland and around the world.
U Win Tin
Co-founder with Aung San Suu Kyi of the National League for democracy, he spent two decades in Burmese jails. Journalist, author and poet, Win Tin was awarded the UNESCO World Press Freedom Prize for his efforts to defend and promote freedom of expression. That year, he was also awarded the World Association of Newspapers’ Golden Pen of Freedom Award.
Anglican priest Desmond Mpilo Tutu was the first black General Secretary of the South African Council of Churches and Anglican bishop of Johannesburg. He called for equal rights for all South Africans. He encouraged nonviolent resistance to the apartheid regime, and advocated an economic boycott of the country. The Nobel Peace Prize Laureate was elected Archbishop of Cape Town. He was later appointed as Chairman of South Africa’s Truth and Reconciliation Commission by then President Nelson Mandela, to investigate apartheid-era crimes. Archbishop Tutu is regarded as an elder world statesman with a major role to play in reconciliation and as a leading moral voice.
Jody Williams received the Nobel Peace Prize in 1997 for her work as founding coordinator of the International Campaign to Ban Landmines, which shared the Peace Prize with her that year. Since 2006, Ms. Williams has chaired the Nobel Women’s Initiative. The Initiative uses the prestige of the Nobel Peace Prize and the combined influence of the sister Peace Prize laureates to support efforts of women around the world working for sustainable peace, justice and equality.