Peace Palace Peace and Justice

Peace Prizes awarded

News item | 27-09-2018

26 September 2018

Belgian war correspondent Rudi Vranckx received the 2018 Carnegie Wateler Peace Prize. The board of the Carnegie Foundation Peace Palace awarded Vranckx for his outstanding courage and commitment to reporting from conflict areas, giving people affected by conflict a face and a voice. In addition to his work as a journalist, Vranckx showed exceptional commitment by personally transporting musical instruments to a destroyed music school in the Iraqi city of Mosul. Also the Youth Carnegie Peace Palace was awarded for the first time. The board of the Carnegie Foundation Peace Palace selected, together with United Network of Young Peacebuilders and Youth Peace Initiative, the winner out of 32 video submissions, originating from all over the world. The prize went to BogotArt for their project Letters for Reconciliation’. Leonardo Párraga, director of BogotArt, received the prize.

Carnegie Wateler Peace Prize

As a journalist for the Belgian public broadcaster VRT, Rudi Vranckx (1959) has shown the effect of conflict on daily life with personal reports. The board of the Carnegie Foundation recognizes his courage to travel to the most dangerous conflict areas in the world. He started his career as a war correspondent in 1989 reporting on the uprising against Ceausescu in Romania. Over the past decades he has reported on wars and conflicts around the world, including in the former Yugoslavia, the Middle East and North Africa, to draw attention to suffering and injustice in conflict situations.

Apart from showing the world the drama and injustice of conflicts as a journalist, Vranckx has shown exceptional personal engagement with the inhabitants of conflict areas. When he came across a music school in the Iraqi city of Mosul that was deliberately and completely destroyed by IS in 2017, Vranckx started a collection of musical instruments in his home country Belgium. He finally delivered the 120 collected instruments to the music school himself. His documentary about this project, ‘Imagine Mosul’, managed to touch many. Back home, he followed up on the project by raising money for an organisation that provides music lessons to young refugees in Belgium.

In the thirty years working as war correspondent, Vrancx learned that, at times, war seems like an inevitable law of nature, but that peace really can be achieved. “That Peace isn’t born of big conferences, and certainly not of social media, with vicious tweets. Rather, it is born here and everywhere, in the fabric of society. Educators, lawyers, doctors, human rights activists, families of victims… It is they who ultimately make the difference. After all these years, I still feel privileged every time I get to tell the story of one of these people. They are the everyday heroes of our time”. Vranckx dedicated the prize to journalists who died during the exercise of their profession.

The Carnegie Wateler Peace Prize is awarded every two years to a person or an institution furthering the cause of international peace, ‘ in whatever way, by word or deed in the form of international action, in literature, or the arts’.

Youth Carnegie Peace Prize

The project project ‘Letters for Reconciliation’ creates a dialogue between disconnected groups in Colombia and, according to the jury of the prize, addresses in an impressive way the challenge of promoting meaningful youth participation in peace transition processes. Moreover, the project creates safe space for communication and trustful civic spaces for youth to operate in their local contexts. Director Leonardo Párraga will be the Youth Ambassador of the Peace Palace for the next two years.

For Párraga it is an honor to receive such a recognition, because it is a direct demonstration of the power that the youth have to transform conflict and build sustainable peace. “In Colombia, after more than 50 years of war, we have seen how the scars of a violent conflict have polarized our society, creating groups that don’t interact with one another and based their perceptions almost entirely in prejudices and stereotypes. We saw the necessity of creating a space of dialogue and understanding, where civil society and FARC ex-combatants could engage with one another beyond labels, leaving the category of an enemy behind to find the common humanity shared by both”.

The Youth Carnegie Peace Prize gives recognition to the work by young peacebuilders in (post-) conflict scenarios and aims to inspire and encourage others to start their own project. The winner of the prize becomes Youth Ambassador of the Peace Palace.

Speech Award ceremony Carnegie Wateler Peace Prize by Dr. Bernard Bot

Acceptance speech by Rudi Vranckx, laureate Carnegie Wateler Peace Prize 2018