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21 décembre 2008

Nobel Peace Prize winners honor Bono

U2 singer Bono received the Peace Summit Award

Associated Press, LOS ANGELES TIMES, 12/18/08

PARIS — Political Hollywood had to find something to occupy itself between election night and the inaugural balls. It seems Europe — glittering with holiday lights — is the place to be if you’re a star with an international cause.

In Paris last week, such notables as former president and best-selling author Jimmy Carter and pop icons Peter Gabriel and Bono gathered at various events to help commemorate the 60th anniversary of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights.

The highlight of the festivities — which also included such international luminaries as former President of Ireland Mary Robinson, Virgin Airlines Chief Executive Richard Branson and Participant Media founder Jeff Skoll — was a gathering of Nobel Peace Prize laureates who presented their Man of Peace award to the U2 lead singer.

After Hollywood’s deep involvement in the U. S. presidential campaign, the week’s events were a reminder of the industry’s influence as an exporter of entertainment and celebrity activism. Nevertheless, Bono, who is considered the superstar of social action, tried to deflect the attention.

“I am an overawarded, over-rewarded rock star,” Bono told the Nobel winners, including F. W. de Klerk, Lech Walesa and John Hume, at an event at the Hotel de Ville. “You are the people who do the real work.”

But event co-host Walter Veltroni, former mayor of Rome, was determined to give the singer — who has worked to fight poverty and disease in Africa — his due.

“We decided to nominate a man who has given a lot and will continue to give a great deal to the struggle for human rights, to the fight against poverty, with his music and with his words,” said Veltroni, who hosted last year’s award recipients — George Clooney and Don Cheadle — in Rome.

With the Eiffel Tower lit blue (marking France’s presidency of the European Union), the luminaries moved from galas to conference rooms to discuss some of the world’s pressing problems: hunger, poverty, disease and genocide.

“We’ve made great progress,” Carter told a group gathered for the Elders’ annual media awards at La Maison Des Arts et Metiers. “But we have a long way to go.”

Also on hand at the Elders’ event was Mariane Pearl, the widow of murdered Wall Street Journal journalist Daniel Pearl, whose story was translated to film as “A Mighty Heart.”

A former journalist herself, Pearl was among those singled out by speakers who repeatedly stressed the importance of news and entertainment media in promoting human rights.

The Elders, a group of Nobel Peace laureates and other international activists, paid tribute to 30 journalistic projects designed to expose human abuses. Some of the winners included an Australian television reporter who documented human-rights violations at a Nike plant in South Asia, a magazine that exposed the human consequences of environmental degradation in India and a Web site ( that documents life along the U. S.- Mexico border.

“These stories are reminders that the struggle for human rights is never ending,” said George Papagiannis, program specialist with the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization.

Meanwhile, across the channel, Clooney was busy raising money for Darfur. At a dinner party in London last week, the Oscar-winning actor raised more than $14 million to assist refugees in the troubled Sudan region. The guests — who paid up to $14,000 to attend — included Matt Damon, Cindy Crawford and Scarlett Johansson.

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