Oscar winner Forest Whitaker is set to be recognized for his dedication to social activism during the 2022 International Peace Honors.
The actor, filmmaker and producer will be celebrated during the January 2022 ceremony, presented by PeaceTech Lab, the non-profit organization founded by the United States Institute of Peace.
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The International Peace Honors celebrates the global leaders and change-agents who “make philanthropy and humanitarian service a hallmark of their lives, to advance humanity and our planet.” The organization’s 2021 honorees included Dr. Anthony Fauci, Amazonian Chief Raoni, Opal Tometi, Ricky Martin, Vint Cerf and Ricardo Montaner who were honored in a virtual ceremony that streamed live on the homepage of YouTube, with aims to expand visibility in 2022.
Whitaker is best known for his prolific onscreen resume, but off-camera he is also the UNESCO Special Envoy for Peace and Reconciliation, a member of the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals Advocacy Group and the CEO and founder of the Whitaker Peace & Development Initiative (WPDI), a foundation which is committed to providing educational tools and economic opportunities to young women and men in places touched by exclusion, violence and armed conflict.
Whitaker won the best actor Oscar for 2007’s “The Last King of Scotland,” but beyond the trophy, the movie had a lasting effect on the actor. After meeting with former child solders while working in Uganda, Whitaker dedicated his humanitarian efforts to conflict resolution with children and youths from communities experiencing or surviving great violence. He has also led education efforts and initiated youth programs in South Africa, South Sudan, Uganda, Mexico and the United States.
“I have witnessed change in the most unlikely places and have seen communities healing and transforming together,” Whitaker said of his humanitarian efforts. “Change for the better is possible even in the most difficult times and in the face of the greatest obstacles. I am hopeful and optimistic for the future and will continue to promote education, peace and reconciliation.”
President and CEO of PeaceTech Lab Sheldon Himelfarb called Whitaker “an extraordinary change agent in the peacebuilding field,” noting the actor and his foundation’s commitment to empowering youth and promoting peace globally.
“Transforming communities from within, putting peace at the center of his youth leadership programs — these are inspirational to us all,” Himelfarb explained. “And we hear his voice — so true and so powerful — on behalf of the voiceless. It’s a great honor for us to recognize Forest for all that he has done.”
Maria-Esmeralda Paguaga, the International Peace Honors’ executive producer added: “Forest Whitaker has brought to his humanitarian work the creativity he has demonstrated as one of Hollywood’s most accomplished and versatile figures, by combining peacebuilding, entrepreneurship and technology to provide youth affected by violence, exclusion and armed conflict.”
The remaining honorees for the 2022 edition of the International Peace Honors will be announced in the coming weeks, as the organization highlights each of their unique contributions towards building more just and peaceful communities around the world. For more information on the ceremony and honorees, visit internationalpeacehonors.org.
UN Photo/Loey Felipe
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