Peace Direct offers heartfelt congratulations to all three new winners of the Nobel Peace Prize, Ellen Johnson Sirleaf and Leymah Gbowee from Liberia, and Tawakul Karman of Yemen. The decision of the Nobel Prize Committee recognizes both the contribution that women are making to build peace and also the role that local people are playing in transforming their own societies.
“This year the Nobel Peace Prize has recognised the vital contribution of local peacebuilders to resolving today’s conflicts in the most direct and effective way,” said Peace Direct Chief Executive Carolyn Hayman. “Local peacebuilders like these Nobel winners can be found in every conflict zone, offering positive leadership and creating a better future for their own communities. Their heroic efforts are too often ignored, and we hope that this award will lead the international community to recognise and support the powerful impact of local peacebuilders around the world.”
The Nobel committee said they awarded the prize to the three winners “for their non-violent struggle for the safety of women and for women’s rights to full participation in peace-building work”. The new winners join an illustrious line of local peacebuilders who have won the Nobel Peace Prize. In each case, the local peacebuilders have been characterised by their combination of profound knowledge of their own societies and the moral authority that comes from their bravery and activism.
The work done by the winners also demonstrates the importance that can be made to peacebuilding by local people working at different levels of society. Johnson Sirleaf, the best known of the winners before today, has shown the role that determined political leadership can play in moving Liberia forward from the horrors of civil war and in starting the process of reconciliation. But by awarding the prize also to Leymah Gbowee, the Nobel Prize Committee has recognised that such progress has only been possible because of the bravery and resourcefulness of grassroots peacebuilders, in this case by protesting and opening the space for dialogue whilst the fighting was still on-going. As Sirleaf Johnson herself has said, the prize truly is “for all Liberian people”.
This kind of locally led peacebuilding is what Peace Direct was founded to support. In every society the work of local people is playing a vital role in resolving conflicts, and with more support their impact can be increased even further. The 2011 award is acknowledgment not only of the three brave and outstanding women who will receive the prize, but of local peacebuilders everyone. Our congratulations to them all.