We are delighted to announce that our partners in Sri Lanka, the Centre for Peacebuilding and Reconciliation (CPBR), have been awarded the prestigious Niwano Peace Prize. The prize is awarded to individuals and organisations that have contributed significantly to inter-religious cooperation and peacebuilding. It is the first time in ten years that the award has been given to an organisation, rather than an individual, and is testament to the power of local peacebuilding.
In a unanimous decision, the committee of prize givers said:
For 26 years, Sri Lanka suffered a devastating civil war which destroyed relationships between communities and religious groups in the country. Since 2002, CPBR have been working at the grassroots level to rebuild trust and social ties between the multiple ethnic and religious groups, in order to further the goal of national reconciliation.
Whilst the end of the civil war in 2009 brought renewed hope for peace, tensions in society remain. CPBR address the root of these tensions through their peacebuilding activities.
Their Interfaith Dialogue Initiatives bring religious leaders from around the country together to discuss reconciliation and peace. An innovative Voice Of Image project gives youth the chance to learn photography skills, capture untold stories of peace and present their pictures in national exhibitions. Photographing peace allows the next generation to unite in their diversity, rather than see it as a divide. Finally, their WOMAN initiative brings women from different backgrounds together to share common loss or suffering experienced during the long civil war. CPBR also provide training in conflict resolution and sustainable living which gives these women a platform to form friendships and rebuild trust.
The CPBR team will receive their formal award at a presentation ceremony in Tokyo on 12 May 2016. The ceremony will celebrate the transformational impact they have had on communities in Sri Lanka and is an opportunity to inspire other local peacebuilding movements around the world.
CPBR demonstrate the idea that we have been championing for over a decade – that local people are best placed to build their own peace. This is powerful recognition of what can be achieved.
You can read more about the Niwano Peace Prize and the reasons why CPBR were awarded it here. If you are inspired to support award winning peacebuilding work like this, you can sign up for a regular donation here.