FORMER British Premier and friend of Rwanda, Tony Blair, has been awarded the 2010 Liberty Medal, a prestigious American award for “people of influence, vision, and leadership”, it has been announced.
Blair will be recognised for his inevitable career progression from world leader to elder statesman, and his relentless pursuit for peace in the world.
In announcing the $100,000 prize given annually by the National Constitution Centre in Philadelphia, the Mayor of Philadelphia, Michael Nutter, praised Blair’s “relentless pursuit of a long-elusive peace in Northern Ireland as British Prime Minister and his dedication to the Middle East peace process as well as Africa”.
Former US President Bill Clinton will hand the 21st medal to Blair on September 13 at the US National Constitutional Centre, Philadelphia.
Blair, 57, announced that he will donate the prize money to two of his charities: the Tony Blair Faith Foundation and the Tony Blair Africa Governance Initiative.
“It is an honour to receive the Liberty Medal,” Blair said, in a statement. “I am deeply indebted to the National Constitution Centre for adding my name to such a distinguished list of recipients.”
Blair’s organisation, Africa Governance Initiative, supports the governments of Rwanda, Sierra Leone, and Liberia. The initiative works with these countries to raise their human capital – including availing experts to work alongside local staff.
Upon receiving the news, Clinton, who is also a previous winner and friend of Rwanda, said in a statement that it is amazing to know that Blair, who after successfully completing his leadership roles, continues to work to see conditions of people improve worldwide.
“It was a privilege to work with my friend Tony Blair to help end 30 years of sectarian violence and broker a lasting peace in Northern Ireland, to stop the killing and mass exodus in Kosovo, and to develop policies that would improve conditions for people in both our countries,” said Clinton, in a statement announcing the award.
“Now, as a private citizen, Tony continues to demonstrate the same leadership, dedication and creativity in promoting economic opportunity in the Middle East and the resolution of conflicts rooted in religion around the world, and is building the capacity of nations to govern honestly and effectively.”
The Liberty Medal was introduced in 1988 to honour “men and women of courage and conviction striving to secure the blessings of liberty to people around the globe.”
It was launched to commemorate the bicentennial of the U.S. Constitution.
The ex-PM also leads the Breaking the Climate Deadlock initiative that is building a consensus on international climate policy.
Other winners include musician Bono, Nelson Mandela, Hamid Karzai, CNN and – last year – film director Steven Spielberg.