WANGO Awards Banquet 

September 27, 2003



WANGO Peace and Security Award 2003

Women in Security, Conflict Management and Peace (WISCOMP)  

Foundation for Universal Responsibility

WISCOMP is a unique, timely, and important initiative for enhancing the participation and professional efficacy of women in conflict resolution, peace building, and international relations. Established by The Foundation for Universal Responsibility of His Holiness The Dalai Lama, and reflecting the vision and unwavering support of The Dalai Lama, WISCOMP has grown to become one of the premier bodies for promoting the national, regional, and global leadership of Asian women in the areas of peace, security, and regional cooperation. The Foundation for Universal Responsibility was established with the Nobel Peace Prize award money given to the Dalai Lama.  

WANGO Peace & Security Award: WISCOMPWith its large, committed, and effective network drawn from academia, the media, government, and NGOs, WISCOMP works to ensure that the unique resources, skills, and perspectives that women can bring to peace building are adequately recognized and encouraged, and provides the context for the development of their expertise and skills for non-violent engagement and conflict negotiation. From their current position of “invisibility” in security and international affairs, women are supported to become not only more visible but to increase their participation and form networks, so that their role in multi-track diplomacy processes in the South Asian region is strengthened. 

Under the guidance of Dr. Meenakshi Gopinath, who is Founder and Honorary Director, WISCOMP has pursued an active agenda on many fronts. It conducts an Engendering Security Program and a Mentor Program; its Conflict Transformation Workshops develops skills in facilitating dialogue by training the next generation of South Asians, and it empowers women, students, and NGO workers in building democratic public opinion against war and conflict. WISCOMP symposia and roundtable discussions advance substantive discussion and debate on peace and security issues, such as women in situations of armed conflict, refugees, trafficking in women and children, arms proliferation, environmental and food security, international arms control, human rights, and so forth. WISCOMP also awards Scholar of Peace fellowships for academic research, media projects, and special initiatives in order to provide better information about overlooked issues and problems that pertain to security, promote better understanding of the structural causes of conflict, and suggest alternatives for non-violent intervention and peace initiatives. The Regional Workshop is a cross-border effort to address shared concerns of nations and peoples within the South Asian region. WISCOMP’s Annual South Asian Symposium on Conflict Resolution is part of an attempt to bring in new perspectives on conflict and peacemaking by grounding it within a more holistic and inclusive framework of human security.  WISCOMP’s many scholarly publications, such as Non-Military Variables of Security, Conflict Resolution: Trends and Prospects, Women and Kashmir, and The Changing Contours of Diplomacy, advance the critical role of this organization in the arena of peace building.

In taking the decision to present WISCOMP with the 2003 Peace and Security Award, the WANGO International Council was most impressed with WISCOMP’s commitment to carving out a meaningful space for women in conflict resolution and its accomplishments in advancing the leadership of Asian women in the areas of peace and security. WISCOMP is a timely initiative, which accords closely with a recent decision of the United Nations Security Council to involve more women in peacekeeping and conflict resolution. WANGO is especially pleased by their regional vision, particularly since the South Asia region holds many potential sources of conflict. The WANGO Award should both empower and encourage such important initiatives for the future of our planet.


WANGO Environment Award 2003

  Green Belt Movement

Founded in 1977 by Dr. Wangari Maathai and the National Council of Women of Kenya, the Green Belt Movement (GBM) has become one of the world’s most successful programs to combine environmental protection and community development. From its humble beginning as a small tree nursery in Dr. Maathai’s own back yard, the GBM has grown into a force of more than 150,000 Kenyans, 6,000 women’s groups and 5,000 grassroots nurseries. More than one million volunteers have been involved since the program’s inception, mostly youth, and over 20 million trees have been planted on farms, school property, church compounds, and other public and private sites.

A broad-based, grassroots NGO composed primarily of women, the GBM’s main focus is the planting of trees with women's groups in order to conserve the environment and improve their quality of life; it aims to curtail the devastating social and environmental effects of deforestation. First known as Envirocare and later Save the Land Harambee, the strategy of encouraging community members to plant trees in large areas of public land so as to form green belts of trees lead to the organization becoming synonymous with green belts and the name of the organizations was changed to the Green Belt Movement to capture this dynamism. Among its core programs are tree planting on public lands, assisting communities in practicing economically friendly initiatives that will increase household food security, grassroots civic education on primary environmental care, and advocacy regarding actions of abuse of the environment and poor governance. Tree-planting has been a springboard to address related issues that affect African rural farmers, such as food production, firewood, soil erosion, desertification. Other nations have followed the GBM model and successfully launched such initiatives.

The GBM was created out of the vision of Dr. Wangari Maathai, who is internationally renowned for her persistent work for democracy, human rights and environmental issues. She has steadfastly advanced this vision even in the face of being imprisoned and physically attacked. Her road has taken an interesting turn: In December 2002, she was elected to the Parliament and appointed Assistant Minister for Environment, Natural Resources andWANGO Environment Award 2003: GBM Wildlife in Kenya’s ninth parliament.  

In taking the decision to present The Green Belt Movement with the WANGO Environment Award 2003, the WANGO International Council was most impressed with the consistent and courageous commitment of the Green Belt Movement and Dr. Wangari Maathai to the values of sustainability and the protection of the natural environment, in spite of serious obstacles and even assault.  WANGO admires the determination shown, despite great odds, to protect the resource system from the many environmental challenges. In GBM’s effort to promote environmental justice and counter deforestation, pollution and other assaults, we also applaud the broad, comprehensive efforts that include attention to issues of women’s rights, corruption, grassroots civic education, entrenched power, poverty, and community development. With over 20 million trees planted, the Green Belt Movement has become a worldwide symbol of what can be accomplished by committed individuals with a vision. The promotion of peace trees – tree planting as a method of conflict resolution within and between communities – is a particularly inspiring initiative.

The GBM is an exemplar of the “Think Globally – Act Locally” approach to systematic change, and of a holistic approach to saving the earth acre-by-acre, village-by-village, person-by-person.

WANGO Human Rights Award 2003

  Congress of Racial Equality (CORE)

Founded in 1942, the Congress of Racial Equality (CORE) is the third oldest and one of the “Big Four” civil rights groups in the United States. CORE played a fundamental role in so many critical milestones in the U.S. civil rights movement that its history is a large part of the story of the civil rights WANGO Human Rights Award 2003: CORE movement. From the protests against “Jim Crow” laws of the 1940’s to the “Sit-ins” of the 1950’s and the “Freedom Rides” of the 1960’s; through the cries for “Self-Determination” in the 1970’s and “Equal Opportunity” in the 1980’s to the struggle for community development in the 1990’s, CORE has championed human rights and true equality for all people. As the “shock troops” and pioneers of the civil rights movement, CORE often has paved the way for the nation to follow.

Founded by an interracial group of students who were deeply influenced by Mahatma Gandhi’s teachings of nonviolent resistance, CORE pioneered the strategy of nonviolent direct action, especially the tactics of sit-ins, jail-ins, and freedom rides. CORE was instrumental in integrating northern public facilities, protests against segregation in public accommodations, testing segregation in interstate travel, and voter education projects. CORE provided the 1955 Montgomery Bus Boycott with its philosophical commitment to nonviolent direct action. As pioneers of the sit-in tactic, the organization offered support throughout the south in the aftermath of the 1960 sit-in of four college students at a Greensboro, North Carolina lunch counter. CORE members then developed the strategy of the jail-in, serving out their sentences for sit-ins rather than paying bail. In 1964, CORE participated in the Mississippi Freedom Summer project; three activists killed that summer in an infamous case were members of CORE.

Under the leadership of Roy Innis, who became the organization’s third National Director in 1968, CORE reached a new level, and has become aHon. Roy Innis supporter of black economic development and community self-determination. With the banner of “truth, logic and courage,” CORE continues to promote harmony and healing in all aspects of society, calling the shots straight, even when it hurts.

In taking the decision to present CORE with its 2003 Human Rights Award, the WANGO International Council was most impressed with the consistent and courageous commitment of CORE and the Honorable Roy Innis to the highest values of true equality for all people.  CORE’s more than 60 years of service to promoting harmony and healing, as well as advancing nonviolent solutions, is especially admirable and a good example for the rest of the world.

WANGO admires CORE’s dedication to the belief that “all people are created equal” and willingness to work toward the ultimate goal of true equality throughout the world.  Its goal of establishing the “inalienable right for all people to determine their own destiny – to decide for themselves what social and political organizations can operate in their best interest and to do so without gratuitous and inhibiting influence from those whose interest is diametrically opposed to theirs” – is a noble goal that needs to be supported. Its long record of finding solutions to the most difficult problems facing minorities, bringing about non-violent social, political and economic change for the underprivileged, and standing boldly and steadfastly in combating those who would keep us apart makes CORE one of the great human rights organizations of our time.

CORE has brought credit to the United States and encouragement and support to other parts of the world. During this the Decade for the Culture of Peace and Nonviolence for the Children of the World, it is especially fitting that CORE’s voice be recognized and awarded.