EUROPEAN PRIZE FOR HUMAN RIGHTS 1998 awarded by the Council of Europe to CHIARA LUBICH

Press Conference – September 22nd at 14:30
at the Palais de l’Europe with the participation of the prize winners.

This year in which we celebrate the 50th anniversary of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, the conferring of the 7th European Prize takes on particular importance.
This award is given every three years to an individual or an organization which have distinguished itself in the promotion or defense of human rights, in accord with the principles of individual and political freedom and the respect for human rights.

On Tuesday, 15 September, at 7 p.m.
Chiara Lubich will also speak to a group of members of parliament at the European parliament. The gathering is organized by the European People’s Party but is open to members of other political groups.
On that occasion Ms. Lubich will speak about the Focolare Movement’s experience
in the areas of politics and economic solidarity.

For the first time the Prize is being awarded to a woman. It was instituted in 1980 and it is honorific. Among others it has been awarded to the Medical Section of Amnesty International (1983), to former Presidents Raul Alfonsin of Argentina (1983), Lech Walesa of Poland and the International Federation of Human Rights (1989), to Médecins sans Frontières (1992).

The Council of Europe official communiqué, announcing the assignment of the price, reads:

Born on January 22, 1920 in the city of Trent in Northern Italy, Chiara Lubich has given life to the Focolare Movement in 1943. Working for unity among peoples through dialogue and concrete actions in favour of peace without frontiers, the Movement is now present in 180 countries and inspires the life and the action of millions of men and women of different religions and convictions.

The defence of individual and social rights is at the heart of the Movement’s action in Europe and throughout the world. Young and adults, civil and religious authorities are involved in the action promoted by Chiara Lubich fostering the cause of Human Rights, peace and unity among individuals and peoples”.

After the announcement many sent congratulatory messages: Daniel Tarshhys, Secretary General of the Council of Europe; Msgr Courtney, Special Envoy of the Holy See to the Council of Europe; The Hon. Oscar Luigi Scalfaro, President of the Italian Republic; The Hon. Romano Prodi, Italy’s Prime Minister.

The Fondation des droits de l’homme de Turquie, an N.G.O. founded in 1990, has played an exceptional role in the defence of Human Rights in Turkey in the last seven years. Its purpose and its task are fostering and practising the universal values recognised by the international conventions and contributing to the abolishment of torture and other violations of Human Rights. Two are the main objectives of the organization: a project for a Centre of Documentation and Centres for treatment and rehabilitation. Recently several activities in the field of Education to Human Rights have been promoted by the Foundation.

The Committee on the Administration of Justice (CAJ) was created in 1981. It is an intercommunitarian group dedicated to the defence of the highest judiciary norms in Northern Ireland. The CAJ checks that the Government respects its obligation to comply with international law. It has unceasingly and impartially worked towards the implementation of Human Rights throughout Northern Ireland. According to CAJ problems of justice and equity lye at the heart of the conflict in Northern Ireland; it deems solving such conflict intrinsically important and essential believing that it should be done by appealing to Human Rights violations in view of putting an end to them.

The Council of Europe was founded in 1949. It works to strengthen democracy and Human Rights on a planetary level. It elaborates common answers to social, cultural and juridical challenges existing in its 40 member states.

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