On June 1, Global Exchange hosted the Ninth Annual Human Rights Awards in San Francisco and it was a great success! The sold out event included inspirational speeches by three incredible honorees (Javier Sicilia, Wilma Subra, Amb. Pablo Solón), witty banter by event emcees Ben & Jerry (in tuxedos!), and was a great time to celebrate the work of Global Exchange and all those who support the work we all do for a better world.
Global Exchange started these awards in order to recognize and elevate the contributions of those who work tirelessly to advance the cause of peace, justice, and sustainability. Each year we select international and domestic honorees, and since 2009 the online People’s Choice Award has invited people from around the world to nominate and vote for hundreds of people doing amazing work across the planet.
Thank you to everyone who joined us June 1, 2011, as we honored the work of:
- Javier Sicilia (People’s Choice Honoree), a poet who lost his son in a drug war massacre and who now is building a movement to free Mexico from the spiraling violence. Mr. Sicilia’s message to attendees was a powerful challenge for those of us in the United States to stand up and support the people of Mexico by ending the failed US Drug War, ending the weapons trade that arms criminals in Mexico, and stopping military aid through the Merida Initiative. Global Exchange was privileged to honor Javier and provide a medium for him to tell the story of Mexico’s tragedy and to work for change.
- Gulf Coast Activist Wilma Subra (Domestic Honoree). Wilma is an accomplished environmental scientist who has been on the frontlines fighting for the rights of local communities in Louisiana following the Gulf Spill. Ms. Subra spoke about the on-going impacts of the disaster and recounted the suffering of those with health impacts from the toxic contamination and effect on local livelihoods. Her commitment to on-going support for the restoration of the environment and livelihood of species and people was an important reminder to us all. View her speech at the HRA.
- U.N. Ambassador for Bolivia Pablo Solón (International Honoree), a strong proponent of climate justice and the Rights of Nature. Amb. Solón spoke of Bolivia’s efforts to have an urgent, new shift at the UN level to recognize the Rights of Mother Earth – a shift to re-define our relationship with nature and combat climate change. He invited all present to re-evaluate our understanding of nature’s rights and stand up as members of social movements and civil society to take part in the change our world so desperately needs. View his speech at the HRA.
All in all, the 9th Annual Human Rights Award Gala was a great time with important messages, celebration and a reminder of those doing amazing work on behalf of people and the planet. My personal thanks goes out to the amazing Global Exchange staff, board members and volunteers who made the event a success. Check us out in action on our People-to-People blog and on Facebook.
If you weren’t able to make it, we hope to see you there next year.