The Sunhak Peace Prize was instituted in 2014 under the peace vision advocated by the founders of the Universal Peace Federation: “One Family of Humanity under God.” The fifth award ceremony focused on the “response to the global pandemic,” and was held on February 12th at the HJ Global Arts Center and live streamed to the Lotte Hotel World in Seoul.
PART I: Awards Ceremony
The ceremony was moderated by Mr. Kim Hyun Wook, former news anchor at KBS, and began with a video presentation describing the founder’s vision and previous Sunhak Peace Prize awards. It concluded with the announcement that the fifth award would be attributed conjointly to Dame Sarah Catherine Gilbert, Professor of Vaccinology at the Jenner Institute, University of Oxford, United Kingdom, and Gavi, the Vaccine Alliance, founded in 2000.
The ceremony was held in the presence of current and former heads of state, both in person and online, and other VIPs from around the world, including 60 leaders from Cambodia, and began with the introduction of the members of the selection committee. The ceremony began with the remarks of H.E. José Manuel Barroso, former Prime Minister of Portugal, former President of the European Commission, and Chair of the Sunhak Peace Prize Selection Committee.
Mr. Barroso explained that in selecting this year’s laureates, the Sunhak Peace Prize Committee focused on the response to global infectious diseases, stating that history remembers the heroes who work for peace. “During this time of the pandemic, we need ‘health for peace’ and ‘peace for health.’ Unfortunately, there is a virus for which a vaccine has not yet been discovered, ‘the virus of nationalism, of unilateralism,’ but we can fight this virus if we accept not only science, but also the need for a truly cooperative and multilateral approach.” He concluded by saying that with solidarity in a multilateral approach, we can achieve miracles and find answers to the fundamental inequalities that lie at the roots of so many of the world’s global problems and that the laureates of today’s Sunhak Peace Prize, Professor Dame Sara Gilbert and Gavi, the vaccine Alliance, are driving forces creating these miracles. They have shown that science and multilateral cooperation works.
Award Presentation and Acceptance Speech: Prof. Sarah Gilbert
Firstly, a video was shown describing the achievements of Professor Gilbert, explaining how she first came to hear about the cases of what came to be known as COVID-19. Viewing vaccines as a global, public good, she contacted AstraZeneca with the purpose of developing a low-cost vaccine that would be available to everyone and went on to conduct clinical trials. She continues to work on the development of new vaccines to combat future pandemics.
After being presented with a medal consisting of 185 grams of pure gold and a plaque from Dr. Barroso, Prof. Gilbert said it was a very great honor to be selected to receive the Sunhak Peace Prize, and to follow on from the prestigious laureates who have received the award in previous years. She described how her work on the clinical development of a vaccine against Ebola in 2014, when the largest outbreak of that disease that is known to us occurred in West Africa, had inspired her to find ways to develop vaccines more rapidly and effectively, and had partnered with AstraZeneca in order to produce the vaccine without profit during the pandemic, and to continue with that pricing strategy in low and middle income countries even after the pandemic ends. She concluded by expressing her hope that many young people would be inspired in their career choice by knowing about what we achieved, and that governments and international organizations would work together to ensure that next time we need to respond to a disease threat, we will be better prepared than we were in 2020.
Award Presentation and Acceptance Speech: Gavi, the Vaccine Alliance
Firstly, a video was presented describing the achievements of Gavi, the Vaccine Alliance, which is the largest international cooperation mechanism that contributed to improving the overall health of humanity by providing vaccination in developing countries. Immediately after the coronavirus outbreak, it coordinated the COVAX Facility, a global collaboration to support manufacturing of COVID-19 vaccines and negotiate their pricing for fair and equitable access. More than one billion doses have been distributed in 144 nations worldwide through this effort.
The award was presented by Dr. Thomas Walsh, chair of UPF International and member of the selection committee, and accepted by Dr. Claude Béglé, founder and president, Symbioswiss and former Member of the Swiss Parliament, on behalf of Dr. Seth Berkley, CEO of GAVI, the vaccine alliance, who could not be present in person.
In his acceptance speech, Dr. Berkley, speaking live from Geneva, Switzerland, expressed his great honor and privilege to receive this prize on behalf of the GAVI Alliance and commended Dr. Hak Ja Han Moon for her tireless work, turning this ambition into a reality. He went on to describe how we have seen countries retreat into vaccine nationalism, instituting export bans and buying up many more COVID-19 vaccine doses than they need for their populations in a time of short supply. We are at a crossroads, he said, with one path, the path of nationalism and insularity, leading to increased insecurity and the continued spread and evolution of COVID-19, while the other path available to us is that of shared partnership, through which we can defeat this global pandemic and end its economic toll, but only by working together. “The spirit of partnership and multilateralism embodied by the Sunhak Peace Prize Foundation and the distinguished laureates up until now has also been embodied by GAVI since its creation in 2000,” he affirmed.
Congratulatory Address by H.E. Ehud Olmert, Prime Minister (2006-2009), Israel
H.E. Ehud Olmert described how every dramatic change always started with one person who had the courage to step forward when most people could not, having the fearless attitude to try something that no one had tried before. This person in our time is Professor Dame Sarah Catherine Gilbert, he said. She had the imagination to think of something that would make a difference, when everyone else was preoccupied by fear of the pandemic, though obviously she worked with others. However, there would be no impact of the creation of such a vaccine without an organization enabling people to receive the vaccine, he affirmed. Millions of low-income people in Africa, South America, Asia and elsewhere in the world would not have been able to benefit from this vaccine without the help of GAVI, the vaccine alliance, with the dedication of thousands of people around the world.
The congratulatory performance was given by a musical team led by South Korean actress Jung Young-ju and South Korean singer/songwriter Park Wan and was preceded by a video describing the impact of the pandemic.
PART II: Special Award Ceremony
Part 2 of the awards ceremony was dedicated to the Founder’s Special Honorary Award Ceremony and began with a video presentation of the accomplishments of the awardee, Prime Minister Samdech Hun Sen of the Kingdom of Cambodia, who sought to establish peace following the war in Cambodia. He is working for peace in Southeast Asia and to reduce the development gap of people along the Mekong River. He is working in alignment with the peace principles of Dr. and Mrs. Moon, the founders of the Sunhak Peace Prize.
Prime Minister Samdech Hun Sen entered the stage accompanied by Dr. Young-ho Yun, Director-General of UPF and member of the selection committee, and Dr. Hak Ja Han Moon then entered the stage to present the honorary award, consisting of a medal and plaque, to the Prime Minister. In his acceptance speech, Prime Minister Hun Sen expressed his appreciation to the Sunhak Peace Prize Committee for recognizing his work in ending the long civil war and building long-lasting peace in Cambodia. Along with this, he also recognized the contributions of the many others who supported his efforts to build peace in Cambodia, including the late King Father, Norodom Sihanouk, the Queen Mother, and our current monarch, his own family, the leaders and members of the Cambodian government and armed forces, the friendly countries and international community who aided Cambodia’s peace process and post-conflict national reconstruction, as well as his fellow countrymen for their enthusiastic support of the government’s Win-Win policy which has created a conducive environment for a robust peace ecosystem in Cambodia. In his concluding remarks, he expressed that he shares the same belief as Rev. Sun Myung Moon and Dr. Hak Ja Han Moon that “peace is concrete action, not a vague dream.”
Congratulatory address by Hon. Newt Gingrich, Speaker of the House (1995-1999), United States, and member of the SHPP committee
Hon. Newt Gingrich thanked Dr. Hak Ja Moon for her leadership and courage. He also thanked Dr. Michael Jenkins and the Washington Times team. He described how vaccination has dramatically reduced the death rate of children around the world. He commended Dr. Gilbert and Gavi, the Vaccine Alliance, for their work and Prime Minister Hun Sen for bringing his country out of a terrible civil war. “I think if you take today’s presentations and today’s speeches, all of us can learn lessons to create a better future to recognize that we are one human family under God, that peace, prosperity, safety and freedom are possible. And there I would say that the Prime Minister’s speech was particularly powerful and particularly moving because I know what he had to go through as a young man and how he persevered when it seemed hopeless,” he said. He described the Sunhak Peace Prize as a building block of a peaceful future and reminded us that it’s the vision and commitment of the 365 days a year of Dr. Hak Ja Han Moon that allows all of this.
Dr. Young-ho Yun then gave his congratulations to Prime Minister Hun Sen, Dr. Sarah Gilbert and GAVI, the vaccine alliance. He explained that the biography of Prime Minister Hun Sen, produced in collaboration with UPF and the Asia Research Institute, was published today, and destined to promote peace and ending hunger in Asia. “The publication of this biography is timely and shows that we can contribute to and build peace in the world,” he said. Dr. Yoon introduced the unveiling of the biography by Prime Minister Hun Sen and the awardees and other dignitaries were presented with a copy.
The ceremony concluded with a congratulatory performance by the musical team and the Little Angels Children’s Folk Ballet.