PRESS BRIEFING ON UNITED NATIONS POPULATION AWARD
FOR INFORMATION OF UNITED NATIONS SECRETARIAT ONLY
The United Nations Population Award -- the only award bestowed by the Organization -- would be shared this year by three people, in honour of the fifteenth anniversary of the Award, the Chairman of the Committee of the Award, the Permanent Representative of Guatemala, Julio Armando Martini Herrera, announced today at a press briefing organized by the United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA).
"This year, in honour of the fifteenth anniversary of the Award, and for this time only, we decided to give it to three laureates", he explained. "The only regret is that we could not give the Award to more of the nominees, but we felt that we had to limit it to three."
The decision to share the Award among three people was not a precedent but a one-time occasion to make a milestone in the Award's history, the Chairman said. The Committee would revert next year to giving one or two awards.
"There were a great number of nominations this year, more than usual", he said. Due to the 22 nominations' very high quality, the Committee spent a great amount of time analysing them. But "the Committee feels that, in the end, it has made the best choices", he added.
The Committee Chairman named the 1997 winners as: Elizabeth Aguirre Calderon Sol, Director of the National Family Secretariat of El Salvador; Toshio Kuroda, Director Emeritus, Nihon University Population Research Institute, Tokyo; and Senator Mechai Veravaidya, Director of the Population Development Association of Thailand. They will receive their award diplomas in June and share the monetary prize of $25,000.
The laureates will join the distinguished company of such past winners as former Prime Minister Indira Gandhi of India (1983); former President Hussain Muhammad Ershad of Bangladesh (1987); President Soeharto of Indonesia (1989); and President Hosni Mubarak of Egypt (1994). The International Planned Parenthood Federation has also won the award that is presented annually to individuals and institutions which help increase awareness of population problems and of their solutions.
The Committee Chairman said that Ms. Calderon Sol had been proposed by the Governments of Ecuador and Spain for her work in promoting social development when she was President of the "Brigade for Social Development" in 1989, and for her more recent work directing the National Family Secretariat.
Mr. Kuroda, he went on, was proposed by the Government of Japan and individuals such as the Executive Vice-President of the East-West Centre in Honolulu, Hawaii, in recognition of his half-century of writing, teaching and scientific studies on population issues in Japan and the rest of the world. Mr. Kuroda could be called the "Dean of Asian Demographers", he added.
Senator Veravaidya, the Committee Chairman said, was proposed by the Government of the Netherlands for his more than two decades of work promoting population policy in Thailand and Asia. He was among the first leaders to acknowledge Thailand's growing problem with HIV/AIDS and worked to frame an effective national policy for AIDS prevention.
The 22 nominations for the 1997 award included 15 individuals and seven institutions. Nominations can be made by Member States; population-related intergovernmental and non-governmental organizations; university professors of population or population-related studies; heads of population-related institutions; and past winners.
The Committee of the United Nations Population Award consists of representatives of 10 Member States elected by the Economic and Social Council for three-year terms. The current members are: Belarus, Burundi, Cameroon, El Salvador, Guatemala, India, Japan, Netherlands, Philippines and Zaire. Secretary-General Kofi Annan and the Executive Director of the UNFPA, Dr. Nafis Sadik, serve as ex-officio members. The Committee also has five eminent persons as honorary members who serve in an advisory capacity for three-year terms.
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