02/19/2019, 14.00
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The 36th Niwano Peace Prize awarded to an American scholar

John Paul Lederach is a scholar and activist who has worked on peace for decades. His involvement in Nepal, Colombia, Northern Ireland, the Philippines and across Africa has helped to support and encourage peace processes.

Tokyo (AsiaNews) – The 36th Niwano Peace Prize has been awarded to John Paul Lederach, professor emeritus of International Peacebuilding at the Kroc Institute for Peace Studies at Notre Dame University and Distinguished Scholar at the Eastern Mennonite University in the United States United, where he served as the founding director of the Center for Peacebuilding and Justice.

Dr Lederach, who is currently Senior Fellow at Humanity United, a philanthropic foundation, has worked in mediating conflicts, building peace, and fostering international reconciliation for more than thirty years. He has developed training in conflict transformation and provided direct conciliation support services in some of the most violently conflicted regions across five continents.

According to the Award commission, he has been a scholar and peace campaigner for many decades; has influenced others through his books, lectures, workshops and meetings; and has offered grounded, practical insights into the complex nature and dynamics of conflict and how to transform it.

For almost four decades his work in places like Nepal, Colombia, Northern Ireland, the Philippines and throughout Africa has helped support and encourage evolving peace processes, given voice to those on the margins of society, and empowered ordinary citizens to transform ongoing and emerging conflict in a healthy and positive way.

Prof Lederach was born in Indiana and grew up in Oregon. His parents worked as teachers; initially, his father was a pastor and his mother a nurse. He graduated from Bethel College in 1980 with a degree in History and Peace Studies, having spent many years as a volunteer in Europe. He then earned a PhD in sociology from the University of Colorado in 1988. From the early 1980s he began to engage actively in peacebuilding and served as director of the International Conciliation Service of the Mennonite Central Committee. 

The Niwano Peace Prize is named after Nikkyo Niwano, the founder and first president of Rissho Kosei-kai, a Buddhist organisation. It honours and encourages individuals and organisations that have contributed significantly to interfaith cooperation, fostering the cause of world peace and making their results known as widely as possible. This way, the Foundation hopes to improve interfaith understanding and cooperation and encourage the emergence of still more people dedicated to working for world peace.

The Niwano Peace Foundation was established in 1978 to contribute to world peace and enhance a culture of peace. It promotes research and other activities based on a religious spirit and serves the cause of peace in fields such as education, science, religion and philosophy.

To avoid an undue emphasis on a particular religion or region, every year the Peace Foundation calls for the nomination of people of known worldwide intellectual and religious stature. Approximately 600 people and organisations, representing 125 countries, participate in the nomination process.

This year’s award ceremony will be held on 8 May in Tokyo. The winner will also receive a medal and 20 million yen (US$ 180,000).

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