20/10/22:The Glencree Centre for Peace and Reconciliation has been announced today as the winner of the prestigious Polish Prize of Sérgio Vieira de Mello by the Villa Decius Association in Kraków, Poland for their activities for the peaceful coexistence and cooperation of societies, religions, and cultures in the non-governmental organisation category. The Polish Prize of Sérgio Vieira de Mello, UN High Commissioner for Human Rights (2002–03) is the initiative of the Villa Decius Association and was established in 2003 to promote human rights, democracy, and tolerance. Barbara Walshe, the former Glencree Chair was awarded the Prize by H.E. Ambassador of Poland to Ireland Anna Sochańska. The newly arrived Ireland Ambassador to Poland Patrick Haughey also attended.
Glencree Centre for Peace and Reconciliation is an independent non-governmental organisation founded in 1974 in response to the Northern Ireland conflict. It played an important role in the peace process at that time, mainly by enabling both sides of the bloody conflict to engage in constructive dialogue and to establish a relationship of trust across political and religious divides as well as against mutual prejudices. The Centre's mission and the main objective of its activities is "Peace for All". The organisation specialises in conflict resolution, extensive inclusive dialogue, mediation, negotiation and peace education. For almost 50 years, The Glencree Centre has carried out its conciliation programmes on 4 continents, including Israel and Palestine, Turkey, Haiti and Thailand, working with both individuals and entire community groups.
Villa Decius Association
Participating in the work of the Villa Decius Association Award Committee were representatives of the President of the Republic of Poland, the Ambassador of the Federative Republic of Brazil, the Ambassador of the Kingdom of Sweden in Poland, the UN High Commissioner for Refugees, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, the Ombudsman for Civil Rights Protection, the Mayor of the City of Krakow, the Consul General of the United States in Krakow, the ZNAK Publishing House, the Founders and Initiators of the Prize, as well as President of the Board and the Director of the Villa Decius Association. The honorary patrons of the Polish Prize of Sérgio Vieira de Mello, the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights are the Ambassador of The Kingdom of Sweden to Poland and the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees.
Among the nominees were individuals and organisations from different parts of the world promoting human rights and the dialogue between religions and cultures.
By the decision of the Award Committee, the 2022 Polish Sérgio Vieira de Mello Prize is awarded to:
Individual category: Serhiy Zhadan (Ukraine)
Non-Governmental Organisation category: The Glencree Centre for Peace and Reconciliation (Ireland)
Honorary Prize: Sister Michaela Rak (Poland)
The recipients were presented with a statuette by Andrzej Renes, commemorative diplomas, and a monetary prize founded by the Sponsor – ZUE SA Group. The Gala was followed by a panel discussion with the Award winners, moderated by journalist Magdalena Rigamonti.
The Ambassador of Poland to Ireland H.E. Ms. Anna Sochańska presented the award to Glencree’s Barbara Walshe Chair and said: “I express great appreciation for Glencree’s achievements and its role in reconciliation through dialogue and getting to know each other better, which increases mutual understanding. I am delighted that the award on behalf of The Glencree Centre for Peace and Reconciliation is being received today by Barbara Walshe, a long-time Chair of the Board and I would like to express my appreciation and congratulations to the hard and fruitful work of all employees of the centre, headed by CEO Naoimh McNamee.”
Accepting the award, Barbara Walshe, the former Glencree Chair said: “Like Sérgio, at Glencree experience has taught us the importance and transformative impact of building relationships and facilitating dialogue between people of often opposing views. Glencree provides a safe space for people to come together to talk, to listen and to grow in understanding of each other, while respecting other’s needs, concerns and difference and looking for the common ground… whatever it takes to keep the lines of communication open and bring people in from the margins.”
Glencree Chair, Ciarán Ó Cuinn said: “This award for us is about the future. Glencree will strive each day to remain deserving of this great honour. As we work to build and deepen reconciliation, Glencree will endeavour be a living commemoration of the life of Sérgio Vieira do Mello. Our warm thanks to the Ambassador of Poland to Ireland H.E. Ms. Anna Sochańska for her ongoing partnership and guidance. In recognition of her amazing dedication, the Board and staff of Glencree were proud to nominate our colleague Barbara Walsh to accept the award on our behalf.”
Glencree CEO, Naoimh McNamee said: "We are deeply honoured to receive the Polish Prize of Sérgio Vieira de Mello and would like to wholeheartedly thank the Villa Decius Association and our dear friend H.E. Anna Sochańska and her team in Dublin for their steadfast support. So much of our work over the years at Glencree has been conducted privately and out of the public eye, due to the need to hold a safe and protected space where difficult conversations can take place and where those in conflict can come together to build constructive relationships and find solutions together. As an organisation that must work quietly at times, it is wonderful and even more meaningful to receive this prestigious endorsement of our work. The Polish Prize of Sérgio Vieira de Mello recognising Glencree’s five decades of peacebuilding work will serve to inspire so many and strengthen our organisation as we continue our peacebuilding journey and strive to equip and support the next generation of peacebuilders, who will carry on this important work in the hope of forging more peaceful futures for us all".