Sean Penn Accepts Peace Summit Award

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The actor and activist paid tribute to the resilience and honor of the Haitian people at the three-day World Summit of Nobel Peace Laureates in Chicago.

Sean Penn, actor and founder and CEO of J/P Haitian Relief Organization, received the 2012 Peace Summit Award on Wednesday at the 12th World Summit of Nobel Peace Laureates. Penn is the “high-profile personality” chosen to be honored for “making an outstanding contribution to international social justice and peace,” according to a press release.

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The three-day event was scheduled for April 23-25 in Chicago, IL, with eleven Nobel Peace Prize-winning individuals and nine Laureate organizations in attendance. Penn thanked the organization for its recognition of his efforts to assist the victims of the 2010 earthquake in Haiti, and “his ongoing advocacy for peace and human rights protection worldwide.”

"It’s difficult to properly respond to this while avoiding cliché,” Penn said. “But quite deliberately, I'm thrilled to receive this tribute and to represent it to the youth of Haiti, the strong women of Haiti, and of the world. Tomorrow is a new day where cynicism is for cowards, and men of virtue and agency will be true heroes to their sons. Many in my generation know cowardice well, but not the youth, and not the women. And NEVER the Haitians. This is an extraordinary honor in an extraordinary moment on Earth. I'm very grateful."

The World Summit of Nobel Peace Laureates attracts Nobel Peace Laureates and high-profile leaders and organizations from around the globe, and it is internationally recognized as among the most important annual events in the field of peacemaking. Organized by the Permanent Secretariat, the World Summit of Nobel Peace Laureates holds an event annually in coordination with a host city. This year, Chicago was the Summit’s destination.

Honorary co-chair of the World Summit Host Committee Mayor Rahm Emanuel said of the event, “Chicago is honored to be the first North American city to host the World Summit of Nobel Peace Laureates, and we look forward to welcoming distinguished guests from around the globe in April. The decision to host this event in Chicago reflects the profile of our city as an international leader in civic dialogue and community involvement. While the Summit is a global event, it will have a local impact and leave a lasting legacy on our city.”

The 12th World Summit, themed “Speak Up, Speak Out for Freedom and Rights,” launched with a kick-off session with five former heads of state, including President Mikhail Gorbachev, President Lech Walesa, President Frederik Willem de Klerk, President Óscar Arias and President Jimmy Carter. Programming during the Summit included six high-level panel discussions focusing on peace, human rights and youth involvement.