The Sydney Peace Foundation’s Gold Medalfor Human Rights is a prestigious acknowledgement of an individual’s tireless commitment to human rights.
The Gold Medal is distinct from the Sydney Peace Prize, which is the Foundation’s preeminent accolade awarded once a year. The Sydney Peace Prize involves a year long process of a public call for nominations and deliberations by the Sydney Peace Prize Jury. The Gold Medal is presented occasionally and the decision to bestow a Gold Medal is made by the Sydney Peace Foundation Executive Council.
The Sydney Peace Foundation’s Gold Medal for Human Rights is awarded on an occasional basis.
2023 – Aung Myo Min
Gold Medal for Human Rights
On 2 June 2023, the Sydney Peace Foundation awarded its Gold Medal for Human Rights to Aung Myo Min.
The citation reads, “for inspiring a generation of pro-democracy advocates in Myanmar. His lifelong work is an example of how hope, courage, and the values of justice can grow out of the most difficult circumstances.”
Aung Myo Min is the Union Minister for Human Rights in the cabinet of the National Unity Government of Myanmar. Prior to joining the NUG, he was one of Myanmar’s most prominent human rights advocates and a youth leader in the 1988 democracy uprising. Aung Myo Min lived in exile for 23 years and continued working on human rights issues in Myanmar, particularly in relation to marginalised people. He graduated with a Masters’ Degree in human rights from Columbia University, New York, in 1993. He has received eight human rights awards for his outstanding human rights work, including the Schuman Human Rights Award in 2017.
Dr Susan Banki, Sydney Peace Foundation board member and Asia-Pacific expert in the University of Sydney’s School of Social and Political Sciences has stated,
“It’s a great honour to recognise Aung Myo Min with the Sydney Peace Foundation Gold Medal for Human Rights, for inspiring a generation of pro-democracy advocates in Myanmar. Aung Myo Min’s lifelong work, most often practiced under deeply restrictive conditions, is an example of how hope, courage, and the values of justice can grow out of the most difficult circumstances.”
On 26 November 2020, the Sydney Peace Foundation awarded its Gold Medal for Human Rights to Midnight Oil. The citation reads, ‘For shining a light on the climate crisis, promoting solutions and fearlessly denouncing those destroying the planet, for their leadership in the political awakening of a generation of climate action leaders and through their songs of defiance and strength providing hope that together we can build a peaceful and just world’.
Chair of the Sydney Peace Foundation, Archie Law has stated,
Midnight Oil is and has for decades been an Australian human rights trailblazer. This Medal is in recognition of that relentless focus,
and in particular for their environmental activism, their humanity and their drive to promote
justice through both their music and their actions.
On 12 March 2020, the Sydney Peace Foundation will award its Gold Medal for Human Rights to Christiana Figueres. The citation reads, ‘For extraordinary leadership to address the climate crisis and reminding us that outrage and optimism are equally important to change the world.’
The Director of the Sydney Peace Foundation, Susan Biggs has stated,
Figueres is one of the world’s top negotiators having done what many said was impossible, she brought the world to the table to sign the Paris Agreement. She is now challenging governments, business and civil society to work together to stop the climate from rising to catastrophic levels. Figueres’ powerful leadership reminds us to balance outrage and optimism because we must maintain the anger so we act quickly, and also the hope that change is possible. She points out that we need to reach the global climate turning point by 2020 to begin the descent towards net zero emissions in the second half of the century. In her words, “We’re holding the pen of history in our hands, it’s up to us to write what the history of humanity and of this planet will be.”
In 2013 the Sydney Peace Foundation awarded a posthumous Gold Medal for Human Rights to Stéphane Hessel, former French resistance fighter, concentration camp survivor, co-author of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and author of the ground breaking book, Time for Outrage.
On May 2nd, at the Australian Ambassador’s Residence in Paris, Ambassador Ric Wells presented the award to Christiane Hessel-Chabry, Hessel’s widow.
Chair of the Sydney Peace Foundation, Professor Stuart Rees, described Hessel as ‘a towering figure of 20th century resistance.’ Hessel insisted on respect for the universality of human rights and he inspired the Occupy Movement’s protest against what he called ‘the international dictatorship of the financial markets.’
The Sydney Peace Foundation has awarded its Gold Medal for peace with justice to WikiLeaks co-founder Julian Assange. The citation reads, ‘For exceptional courage and initiative in pursuit of human rights’.
The Director of the Sydney Peace Foundation, Professor Stuart Rees, has stated,
‘Assange’s work is in the Tom Paine Rights of Man and Daniel Ellsberg Pentagon Papers tradition- challenging the old order of power in politics and in journalism.
Assange has championed people’s right to know and has challenged the centuries old tradition that governments are entitled to keep the public in a state of ignorance. In the Paine, Ellsberg and Assange cases, those in power moved quickly to silence their critics even by perverting the course of justice’.
The Sydney Peace Foundation Gold Medal was awarded to Julian Assange at a ceremony in mid 2011. For more on Julian Assange’s award including a video of the ceremony at London’s Frontline Club, click here.
2009 – Daisaku Ikeda
Gold Medal for Human Rights
Sydney Peace Foundation Executive Committe member Marie Whybourne presented an Sydney Peace Foundation Medal Daisaku Ikeda, the Japanese Buddhist philosopher, educator, writer and peace activist (seen here with Foundation Directory Professor Stuart Rees).
Dr Ikeda founded Soka Gakkai International, an organisation with ten million members world wide who share a philosophy which emphasises the value and dignity of all life and the responsibility of every individual to contribute to building a world where people of diverse cultures and faiths can live in peace.
2000 – Nelson Mandela
Former President of South Africa, Nelson Mandela, visited the Sydney Peace Foundation in 2000. The Sydney Peace Foundation gave Mandela special recognition at an informal engagement at the Centre for Peace and Conflict Studies, University of Sydney. This acknowledgement predicated the process of establishing a more formal award.
2000 – Dr Stella Cornelius and Dr Faith Bandler
During his time in Sydney, Mandela also presented Dr Stella Cornelius, founder of the Conflict Resolution Network, and Dr Faith Bandler, campaigner for indigenous rights in Australia, with certificates for their dedication and achievements in conflict resolution and education.