GENEVA, May 23, 2014 – Geneva-based human rights group UN Watch presented its annual Moral Courage Award on Thursday to Canadian cabinet minister Jason Kenney, one of the country’s most influential national figures, a decision that drew strong praise from the Dalai Lama, the Nobel Peace Prize Laureate and Tibetan spiritual leader who sent a special envoy to the Geneva ceremony attended by UN officials, ambassadors, and community leaders.
“UN Watch honors Minister Kenney for demonstrating the courage to lead in upholding the founding principles of the United Nations, and defending the true principles of human rights,” said UN Watch executive director Hillel Neuer.
“When others have been silent while serial perpetrators of human rights abuses like Iran and Syria seek to hijack the UN’s human rights and anti-racism causes, Minister Kenney has been a clear and consistent voice for their millions of victims, opposing tyranny, hypocrisy and injustice.”
In an emotional moment, the Dalai Lama’s envoy placed a traditional Tibetan scarf upon Kenney to recognize his outspoken defense of oppressed Tibetans.
“I have great admiration for your leadership, the concern and active support you have shown for the Tibetan cause, and your role in enhancing Canada’s diverse multi-ethnic and multicultural society,” wrote the Dalai Lama in remarks submitted for the event.
“I have been impressed by your efforts to support the rights of oppressed people around the world.”
Many other community leaders also sent their congratulations.
Last night’s ceremony was held next to the UN Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights, by the shores of Lake Geneva.
Previous winners of the UN Watch award include Spanish prime minister Josa Maria Aznar, British parliamentarian John Mann, and North Korean dissident Dong-hyuk Shin.
UN Watch’s international advisory board includes Nobel Peace Prize Laureate David Trimble, Chinese dissident Yang Jianli and Katrina Lantos Swett, Chair of the U.S. Commission on International Religious Freedom.
The Geneva non-governmental organization is best known for bringing dissidents, human rights defenders and victims to testify before the United Nations, including most recently from China, Cuba, Egypt, Libya, North Korea, Syria, Sudan and Venezuela.
Each year, together with 25 NGOs, UN Watch assembles top dissidents to spotlight the world’s most critical human rights issues at its annual Geneva Summit for Human Rights and Democracy.
Canadian Health Minister Rona Ambrose was in attendance, as were numerous Canadian diplomats.