WANGO Awards Banquet
October 23, 2004
Star Kampuchea is a Cambodian NGO that is leading the effort to strengthen civil society in that nascent democracy. Through its numerous programs, including the development of an NGO Code of Ethics, Star Kampuchea has been at the forefront of improving the coordination, effectiveness, and credibility of NGOs, and tackling issues of critical importance to the civil society sector and the people of Cambodia.
In Khmer, the official name of the organization is SDAR Kampuchea, which means “rebuilding Cambodia.” It is written in English as Star Kampuchea, referencing the Cambodian Constitution as a “guiding star” for the country and for the work of the organization.
Star Kampuchea was established in 1997 by a group of 14 people. Since then, this non-profit, non-partisan and democratic organization has been working tirelessly to improve the lives of Cambodians by creating capacity among the grassroots and promoting the growth of a vibrant and effective civil society. It has to become a well-known and respected organization, with a solid reputation among government bodies, civil society actors, and donors. Tens of thousands of people and hundreds of NGOs have benefited from its activities. It also has many officially affiliated NGOs as part of its Cooperating Organizations, and coordinates four Provincial Networks of NGOs.
Star Kampuchea’s Advocacy Capacity Building Program (ACP) works to build skills in civil society, conducting hundreds of training courses aimed at improving advocacy ability among the grassroots, and spurring the growth of local NGOs. Star Kampuchea’s Advocacy Action Program (AAP) is involved in conducting numerous forums and workshops aimed at bringing authorities and people into closer contact. This allows grassroots leaders to raise their concerns and local authorities the opportunity to act on the concerns of those they represent. Under AAP, Star Kampuchea also organizes an NGO fair, and works with other NGOs in developing draft laws, such as the NGO draft Law, the penal code, and the anti-corruption draft law.
Star Kampuchea is leading the way in guiding the Cambodian NGO sector through its development of a Code of Ethics for NGOs. This far-reaching and highly detailed code addresses such concerns as anti-corruption rules, guidelines for internal conduct of NGOs, and conditions for NGOs to work together without competition or rivalry. To date, it has been signed by 170 Cambodian NGOs, both those working nationally and internationally.
Star Kampuchea also has played a leading role in getting Cambodia ready for entry in the WTO, organizing forums and workshops to discuss this critical issue and develop coherent strategies, including the formation of draft laws for industrial zones that will come as a result. Star Kampuchea has established advocacy networks in the provinces, improved relations among the quarreling labor movement, and successfully advocated on behalf of people being pressured to leave their land through government fiat. It has distributed copies of critical laws, such as almost 6,000 copies of the Commune Administration law, 5,000 copies of the Land Law, and over 4,000 copies of the Constitution. Star Kampuchea is also involved in trying to improve the new NGO law that the government intends to pass, bringing NGOs together to discuss the changes that should be made and to draw up a draft law in the hope of influencing the final product, which will have a profound effect on the function of NGOs in Cambodia.
In taking the decision to present Star Kampuchea with the WANGO Civil Society Development Award 2004, its inaugural award in this category, the WANGO International Council recognizes these many remarkable achievements and the continuing outstanding and sacrificial service of Star Kampuchea toward improving and strengthening the civil society sector in Cambodia.
Article 16 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights states that “the family is the natural and fundamental group unit of society and is entitled to protection by society and the State.” Since the adoption of this declaration on December 10, 1948 by the General Assembly of the United Nations, the institution of the family has been undergoing many diverse challenges worldwide. United Families International (UFI) is one of the world’s leading, non-governmental organizations devoted to maintaining and strengthening the family as the fundamental unit of society. This non-denominational, public charity has been conducting a very active agenda of programs oriented toward strengthening the family and overcoming the obstacles to the integrity of this irreplaceable institution.
The programs of UFI deal with many of the core issues of our time: marriage, parenting and parenthood, values and human sexuality, sanctity of life, family disintegration, media assaults, judicial challenges, HIV/AIDS prevention, religious liberty, and issues of sovereignty. UFI is involved in international lobbying efforts, and is represented at every major U.N. conference, as well as active in lobbying on behalf of family issues at the United Nations and individual governments. UFI publishes a Pro-Family U.N. Negotiating Guide. Its Stay Alive, abstinence-based HIV/AIDS prevention program is conducted in Ghana, Swaziland, Mozambique, South Africa, Uganda, Kenya, Zambia and Ethiopia. UFI co-convened the World Congress of Families in New York, and has attracted government leaders from around the world in the cause of defending families. UFI monitors family issues globally, working to educate the public about timely issues.
UFI is the coordinating organization of the World Family Alliance, a coalition of organizations and individuals from diverse countries, cultures and religions, united in the belief that the family is the fundamental unit of society. In 2003, UFI also launched the Defend Marriage Campaign to help protect the institutions of traditional marriage and the natural family from the growing threats they face today. Defend Marriage carries out its mission primarily through educating the public, policy makers and the media about these threats and the serious negative impacts they are having on the United States. They also conduct legal research, help shape public opinion on these issues and support policies and legislation that will strengthen marriage and the family. As UFI president Sharon Slater has stated, “Marriage, the glue that cements the family together is in peril. We are launching a campaign to preserve and defend marriage as an essential government-sanctioned foundation for families. The UFI’s Defend Marriage and Family Conference captured this essence with its theme that “As marriage goes, so goes the children, so goes the nation, so goes the world."
In taking the decision to present United Families International with the 2004 Family & Peace Award, the WANGO International Council was most impressed with the consistent and courageous commitment of UFI to the protection of this natural and basic unit of society. One of WANGO’s founding principles recognizes that strengthening the family is a fundamental route to creating a world of peace and well-being. We commend the efforts of United Families International to maintaining and strengthening the family, and thus working at the most essential level to build a better world.
The Buccoo Reef Trust is a Caribbean non-profit organization, which is tackling the serious challenges facing our marine environments in that region, with particular emphasis on the threats facing Tobago’s coral reefs. Coral reefs are among the most diverse, productive and biologically significant communities on earth. The coral reefs surrounding Tobago are economic and ecological treasures, which are rich in filter-feeding animals, such as sponges and soft corals, have an abundance of plankton, and are home to enormous shoals of planktivorous and predatory fish, as well as sea turtles. The 10,000 year-old Buccoo Reef, for which the trust is named, is the largest coral reef in Tobago. This natural wonder is home to thousands of species of animals and plants, and includes a myriad of ecological habitats. However, as with many coral reefs, the Buccoo Reef is a shadow of what it once was, due to factors such as physical damage from reef walking and anchors, the harvesting of endangered and threatened species, and especially land-based runoff, including pollution from sewage and agricultural activities. In inshore areas, much of the coral is now dead and smothered by algae.
The Buccoo Reef Trust, which is registered in Trinidad and Tobago, is addressing the threats facing Tobago’s coral reefs and exploring opportunities for the sustainable development of marine tourism, fishing and aquaculture in the Caribbean region as a whole. It is working to build and operate the Tobago Marine Research Centre as an internationally recognized institution of research and education that will serve the Southern Caribbean region as a focal point for coral reef conservation and the development of sustainable aquaculture. Through education, research and active ecotourism, the Trust is fostering an attitude that will enable people to protect the marine environment while ensuring sustainable use of the region’s aquatic resources.
The Buccoo Reef Trust is particularly active in the restoration of its namesake, the Buccoo Reef. It is working on developing a detailed digital habitat map of the reef, and is spearheading a varity of educational projects, such as developing environmental guidelines for visitors, conducting conservation and awareness campaigns, and adding a marine education component at the primary school level. Among its other projects is the establishment of reef demarcation buoys, organizing beach clean-up programs, advising on wastewater treatment, and developing sustainable seamoss-harvesting and seamoss-farming activities in Tobago to provide income without destruction of the reefs.
In taking the decision to present the Buccoo Reef Trust with its environmental award, the WANGO International Council was impressed with the consistent and courageous commitment of the Buccoo Reef Trust to protection of Tobago’s and the Caribbean’s marine environment and coupling this with exploring opportunities for sustainable development for the region’s people. We find praiseworthy the vision of the Trust: To see a world in which the marine environment of tropical islands is conserved for the benefit of future generations while maximizing present opportunities for sustainable livelihoods that enhance the quality of human life. While Buccoo Reef Trust is a young organization, it is clear that the Trust is not only sincerely motivated, but quite accomplished, and well worthy of this honor. We take great pleasure in recognizing this organization, particularly since so little recognition is given to organizations working on ocean environments.
Through its innovative OneVoice initiative, PeaceWorks Foundation has been tackling one of the most pressing and intractable issues of our day – the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. At the heart PeaceWorks Foundation is the fundamental belief that this conflict, like many of our world’s most violent crises, has been greatly exacerbated by small groups of radical extremists. These groups have stalled political peace processes and effectively silenced the vast majority of people who prefer peace to fear and uncertainty.
The Founder of PeaceWorks Foundation, Daniel Lubetzky, has long been restoring the voice of peaceful moderation through creative and self-sustainable projects that promote cooperation and overcome hatred. He has spent ten years crafting innovative Arab-Israeli business ventures through his company, PeaceWorks LLC, an international manufacturer of food products. Since the fall of 2000, Mr. Lubetzky began to research creative ways to amplify the voice of moderates in the Middle East, and in 2002 PeaceWorks Foundation was officially launched. PeaceWorks Foundation’s OneVoice Initiative has three offices in the Middle East: an Israeli office, a Palestinian office, and a regional coordination office overseen by Mideast Regional Director, Mohammad Darawshe, a prominent civil leader.
PeaceWorks Foundation seeded One Voice with the cooperation and leadership of over 200 Palestinian, Israeli and international experts and community leaders. OneVoice is a concrete platform designed to empower the moderate majority of Palestinians and Israelis to come up with a viable and acceptable mandate for co-existence, and achieve consensus for conflict resolution at the grassroots level.
What is unique about OneVoice is the development of a platform and methodology designed to enable a broad base of citizens to negotiate an end to the conflict at the grassroots level. OneVoice works with ordinary Israelis and Palestinians, deploying cutting edge technology, electronic democracy, a network of member organizations, and a broad cadre of experts, dignitaries, celebrities, and spiritual leaders, to enable citizens to craft a public consensus around issues at the heart of the conflict. The OneVoice Public Negotiations Referendum provides a means for amplifying the now-silent voice of moderates. The referendum processes, where Israelis and Palestinians vote on 10 proposals, -- a veritable peoples’ mandate – are a means for ensuring political accountability to the public will.
In 2003, OneVoice crafted a Proclamation of Principles of Reconciliation, a document recognizing the pain of both sides, condemning violence in all capacities, and affirming a desire for a two-state solution. Over 25,000 Israeli and Palestinians signed in support to the proclamation. Hundreds of thousands of Israelis and Palestinians voted on the proposals.
The success of OneVoice is dependent upon its ability to continue to generate broad involvement from both Israelis and Palestinians without according preferences to either side. Two key assumptions are built into the structure. The first assumption is that there exists a latent but overwhelming desire for moderate expression. The second assumption deals with the belief that both societies will ultimately be able to reach an honorable compromise on all the key issues.
In taking the decision to present PeaceWorks Foundation with its Peace, Security and Reconciliation Award, the WANGO International Council was most impressed with the PeaceWorks Foundations innovative platform and methodology to enable a broad base of citizens to be actively involved in the peace process. The OneVoice program is an extraordinary idea, and we commend and wish to recognize its work to amplify the voice of the Israeli and Palestinian moderates and achieve grassroots consensus for conflict resolution.
Small Kindness, founded by Yusuf Islam (formerly Cat Stevens) in 1999, works to alleviate the suffering of families and children in the Balkans and the Middle East. It is involved in promoting community development and prosperity by providing relief and educational programs to needy people ravaged and made homeless by war, conflict and natural disasters.
Small Kindness helps the most vulnerable victims of war and conflict, such as orphans, widows, and young girls, by providing direct relief and support, while employing and utilizing local staff and infrastructure and being sensitive to the cultural needs of the communities it is serving. Among the services it provides are (1) living necessities, including direct financial support of the most needy; (2) education, such as courses for female students and specialized training and university scholarships; (3) shelter, through the rebuilding of homes of victims that have been destroyed or damaged in times of conflict; (4) culture and leisure, involving the establishment of recreation centers where people can meet and enjoy various activities such as sports and learning to use computer technology; and (5) publications, including those in local languages designed to promote healthy moral and cultural values through entertaining articles and cartoon comic series.
Small Kindness was one of the first aid agencies to directly provide financial support to orphans and families in the aftermath of the Iraq war. It also opened the first European Management Training & Educational Center in the heart of Baghdad University, and has over 500 girls on the rolls.
Central to Small Kindness is the concept of long-term support. As Yusuf Islam has stated, “Our belief is that we should not stop our support because the TV cameras have turned to other hotspots.” Following initial deliveries of emergency aid and materials to areas such as Kosovo, Bosnia & Herzegovina, Albania, and more recently Iraq, Small Kindness has successfully established a system of long-term support and development by providing regular payments to orphans and widows and founding educational institutions for the training of local youth, enabling young women in particular to learn skills and gain qualifications that will provide them with career prospects and a brighter future.
WANGO admires Small Kindness’ tireless work in various countries to bring vital emergency aid and humanitarian relief to war-affected families and victims of poverty and natural disasters.
The goal of this organization to not only provide emergency relief, but also long-term solutions involving educational programs, community development and cultural programs, is a noble goal that needs to be supported and recognized.