By Shout-Africa – PHILADELPHIA- David Eisner, President and CEO of the National Constitution Centre, announced today that former British Prime Minister Tony Blair will receive the 2010 Liberty Medal in recognition of his steadfast commitment to conflict resolution. President Bill Clinton, Chair of the National Constitution Center, will award the prestigious medal to former Prime Minister Blair at a public ceremony on Monday, September 13, 2010 at 7:00 p.m., at the National Constitution Center on Independence Mall in Historic Philadelphia. The ceremony will be broadcast live on WPVI-TV/6abc and webcast live on www.6abc.com.
The 2010 Liberty Medal ceremony will kick off a week of events leading up to Constitution Day on Friday, September 17.
Organisers of the awards say former Prime Minister Blair played a critical role in advancing peace in Northern Ireland during his tenure as British prime minister. Throughout the gruelling negotiation process that preceded the historic Good Friday Accord, he displayed unwavering determination to settle the generations-long conflict. Since leaving government, former Prime Minister Blair has continued to facilitate productive dialogue between diverse groups, as Quartet Representative to the Middle East for the United Nations and through the Tony Blair Faith Foundation.
“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 in and mass exodus from Kosovo, and to develop policies that would improve living conditions for people in both our countries,” said President Bill Clinton. “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 developing nations to govern honestly and effectively. I’m pleased the Constitution Center is awarding him the Liberty Medal in recognition of his work to promote the actions necessary to make peace, reconciliation, and prosperity possible.”
“Tony Blair has significantly furthered the expansion of freedom, self-governance, equality and peaceful coexistence,” said David Eisner at the press conference announcing plans for the 2010 Liberty Medal. “This award recognizes both his dedication to and his success in building understanding among nations and creating lasting solutions in areas of conflict.”
Former Prime Minister Tony Blair said, “It is an honour to receive the Liberty Medal. I am deeply indebted to the National Constitution Centre for adding my name to such a distinguished list of recipients. Freedom, liberty and justice are the values by which this medal is struck. Freedom, liberty and justice are the values which I try to apply to my work on governance in Africa and on preparing the Palestinians for statehood. They are the values which drive the work of my faith foundation as we try to show that people of different faiths can live together constructively, in peace and harmony.”
“It is a particular pleasure to receive this award from my great friend and ally President Clinton,” added Blair. “Bill Clinton’s friendship, counsel and support were so very vital as we worked towards peace in Northern Ireland. I was proud to stand with President Clinton as we fought to end the genocide in Kosovo. And I am just as proud to receive this award from him. I accept it, not as recognition of what has already been achieved, but as a sign that we share an ambition and determination to achieve so much more in the future.”
“Tony Blair, both in his time as British Prime Minister and in the work he has done since leaving office, has been one of the world’s most important catalysts for reaching the goals of peace, freedom, and liberty. He is a worthy recipient of the Liberty Medal,” said Governor Edward G. Rendell.
“Tony 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 and promoting religious understanding since leaving office set him apart as one of the world’s leading statesmen and a deserving recipient of the 2010 Liberty Medal,” said Mayor Michael A. Nutter. “Mr. Blair joins an illustrious list of Liberty Medal recipients, recognized for their service to the international community, and it is our honor to host a true friend of the United States in Philadelphia, the birthplace of American liberty and democracy and the home of this wonderful event.”
Tony Blair served as prime minister of the United Kingdom from 1997 through 2007, the longest service of any Labour Party prime minister, based on leading his party to an unprecedented three consecutive general election victories. Blair’s integral role in the Northern Ireland Peace Process has been widely recognized as one of his greatest achievements while in office. On April 10, 1998, the Good Friday Accord brought an end to the sectarian violence in Northern Ireland, after a decade-long negotiation. Blair’s success in navigating the contentious negotiation process places him firmly among the world’s most effective modern statesmen. By extending his hand to Irish leaders in the spirit of unity and refusing to abandon discussions – despite repeated and often violent setbacks – Blair opened the door to liberty and peace in a region long plagued by turmoil.
“At the time, Tony Blair’s efforts to reconcile the conflict in Northern Ireland were considered groundbreaking,” added Eisner. “Today, we recognize low-intensity regional conflicts as among the world’s greatest threats, making Blair’s past successes and current commitment to conflict resolution even more noteworthy.”
In 2007, at the end of his term as prime minister, Blair was named Quartet Representative to the Middle East, representing the United States, United Nations, Russia, and the European Union. In this role, Blair works with the Palestinian Authority, the Government of Israel, and the international community to prepare the Palestinians for statehood.
The following year, he established the Tony Blair Faith Foundation, which promotes respect and understanding among the world’s religions to show how faith is a powerful force for good in the modern world. By encouraging better understanding of other people’s beliefs, particularly among young people, the foundation aims to mediate and prevent conflict through increased recognition of shared values. This international organization’s efforts include programs that engage secondary school students of different faiths in learning directly from and about each other and partnerships with leading universities to engage the higher education sector in a deeper understanding of the interrelationship between faith and globalization. The foundation also leads a multi-faith social action program that mobilizes people of faith to work together on issues of health and global poverty, in order to help achieve the UN’s Millennium Development Goals. Blair also spearheads the Africa Governance Initiative, which works in Rwanda, Sierra Leone, and Liberia, equipping visionary African leaders to deliver on their reform agendas, while tackling poverty and attracting sustainable investment. In addition, he leads the Breaking the Climate Deadlock initiative. As the first major head of government to bring climate change to the top of the international political agenda at the 2005 G8 summit, Blair now works with world leaders to build consensus on a new comprehensive international climate policy framework.
The Liberty Medal was established in 1988 to commemorate the bicentennial of the U.S. Constitution. Given annually, the medal honors men and women of courage and conviction who strive to secure the blessings of liberty to people around the globe. The Liberty Medal was first administered by the National Constitution Center in 2006, when Presidents George H.W. Bush and Bill Clinton were honored for their bi-partisan humanitarian efforts on behalf of the victims of the tsunami in Southeast Asia and the hurricanes on the Gulf Coast. Other past Liberty Medal winners include Nelson Mandela, Shimon Peres, Kofi Annan, Sandra Day O’Connor, and Bono. Last year’s Liberty Medal was awarded to filmmaker and humanitarian Steven Spielberg for his artistic and personal commitment to the preservation of human rights. The Medal has also been awarded to organizations, including Doctors Without Borders and CNN International. Six recipients of the Medal have subsequently won the Nobel Peace Prize.
Ira Lubert of Independence Capital Partners will sponsor the Liberty Medal Award in 2010, as he has for the past two years. Citizens Bank is the presenting sponsor for the President’s Reception prior to the Liberty Medal ceremony. The City of Philadelphia and the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania also support the Liberty Medal. Christopher Bruner, Managing Partner of Ernst & Young; Steven M. Galbraith, Partner of Maverick Capital; and William R. Sasso, Chairman of Stradley Ronon, are co-chairs of the 2010 Liberty Medal, leading the committee in charge of generating support for the event.
Action News Anchorman Jim Gardner will host the live broadcast of the Liberty Medal ceremony on 6abc. The event will also be streamed live on www.6abc.com. The National Constitution Center, located at 525 Arch St. on Philadelphia’s Independence Mall, is an independent, nonpartisan, nonprofit organization dedicated to increasing public understanding of the U.S. Constitution and the ideas and values it represents. The Center serves as a museum, an education center, and a forum for debate on constitutional issues. The museum dramatically tells the story of the Constitution from Revolutionary times to the present through more than 100 interactive, multimedia exhibits, film, photographs, text, sculpture and artifacts, and features a powerful, award-winning theatrical performance, “Freedom Rising.” The Center also houses the Annenberg Center for Education and Outreach, which serves as the hub for national constitutional education. Also, as a nonpartisan forum for constitutional discourse, the Center presents – without endorsement – programs that contain diverse viewpoints on a broad range of issues.