Award winners 2008

Kofi Annan

According to the jury and board of trustees of the Economic Society for Westphalia and Lippe, former UN Secretary-General Kofi Annan has been awarded the Peace Prize because he has always remained true to his vision of a more peaceful world despite many political disappointments and personal disparagement in office. It was under Annan's General Secretariat that the World Climate Report was drawn up, which has since brought about a change in the world's awareness of the problem. According to the jury, Annan's high moral standing is currently also reflected in the fact that he is recognized by the parties as a credible mediator in the bloody conflict in Kenya.

The Nobel Peace Prize laureate has repeatedly used compelling arguments to point out the connection between freedom, social progress, equality and respect for human dignity and has campaigned with all his might for peace and non-violence.

The Ghanaian Annan was born on April 8, 1938, the third of five children in a merchant family. In 1959, the highly gifted student left his West African homeland to study economics in the USA. He is married for the second time to the Swedish lawyer Nane, a niece of the Swedish diplomat Raoul Wallenberg, who is one of Annan's role models. In 2001, Annan was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize.

Kofi Annan has spent his entire professional life at the United Nations. However, the gentle man from Ghana did not become a bureaucrat, but a visionary with moral weight, who led the UN back onto the political world stage. When Kofi Annan was elected to the highest office of the United Nations in 1996, he took over an organization in a disastrous state: the UN was almost bankrupt, relations with the USA were shattered, peace missions around the world were a fiasco. More than half a million people were cruelly killed in Rwanda within a few weeks in 1994, while the world looked on "neutrally".

Annan was responsible for peace missions as UN Deputy Secretary-General at the time and knew that the Hutu government was planning mass murders of the Tutsi minority. But he was unable to wrest a mandate to intervene from the UN Security Council. For him, it was the most serious personal defeat of his life, Annan said later. For the UN, it was a disaster.

The world organization's reputation was ruined when Annan took office in December 1996, and it played practically no role on the world political stage. But in the years that followed, Annan managed to stabilize the organization's budget, resolve the dispute with the US Congress and make the UN a factor in international politics again.

"Lebanon Project" of the Young Malteser Community

An escape from everyday life characterized by the turmoil of war and deprivation - this is what the Young Maltesers have been making possible for disabled people in Lebanon since 1998. Every summer, they take around 150 guests of all ages to the only handicapped-accessible vacation home in the country. There, the disabled people receive attention that many of them have never experienced before. Their lives are characterized by homes where they receive the necessary food, care and accommodation, but hardly any therapy due to a lack of staff. Hospitalism, aggression and self-harming behavior are the consequences.

Everyday life at the vacation camp is completely different: each guest is assigned a volunteer who is there just for them. Someone who shares their day with them, takes them seriously and offers them friendship. The volunteers organize their free time according to the individual preferences and abilities of the guests. Their motivation varies: they want to help the poor of the world without detours, experience the practical side of faith and get to know the Middle East better.

Many of these wishes come true. But the camp does even more: for the first time in months, disabled children are able to relax and show their happiness. The professional helpers and volunteers get the feeling that they are needed. Many Lebanese are experiencing friendly interaction between disabled and non-disabled people for the first time and are gaining a new perspective on disability and infirmity. Finally, Malteser International's presence in the Middle East sends out a signal that goes far beyond the situation of the disabled: Lebanon lies at the heart of a region characterized by insecurity and war. But in the Malteser camps, young Lebanese people experience that change is possible - even under adverse circumstances.