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Friday, 1 February, 2002, 10:24 GMT
Hume receives Gandhi Peace Prize
Indian President K R Narayan (left) with Mr Hume
Indian President K R Narayan (left) with Mr Hume
Nobel Peace Prize winner John Hume has been given another award for his contribution towards trying to end conflict in Northern Ireland.

The former SDLP leader was in India to be presented with the Gandhi Peace Prize, the country's premier prize, at a ceremony in the president's residence in Delhi on Friday.

A jury chaired by Indian Prime Minister Atal Behari Vajpayee unanimously decided to confer the award on Mr Hume.

They described him as a man who had been "instrumental in heralding a new era of justice, peace and reconciliation in Ireland".

The Indian Government said that in honouring Mr Hume "the Indian nation pays tribute to an extraordinary man, who by his fearlessness, selflessness and dedication to the cause of humanity upheld those ideals which were dearest to Mahatma Gandhi".

Mahatma Gandhi prize honours peace efforts
Mahatma Gandhi prize honours peace efforts

Mr Hume, who co-founded the moderate nationalist Social Democratic and Labour Party in 1970, was instrumental in persuading republicans to enter the Northern Ireland peace process.

He was one of the main architects of the 1998 Good Friday Agreement which led to the province's powersharing government.

Years of efforts to further political co-operation between Northern Ireland's opposing parties and the achievement of the 1998 agreement, earned him the Nobel Prize that year, jointly with the Ulster Unionist leader David Trimble.

In November 2001 Mr Hume stepped down as SDLP leader. He is a European MP and a Westminster MP for Foyle.

The Gandhi Peace Prize was launched in 1995 on the occasion of the 125th anniversary of his birth.

The prize carries an award of US$217,000.

Receiving the award, Mr Hume said progress in peace processes could only come when those involved accepted that compromises must be made.

He said: "Our differences of religion and politics are accidental: none of us chose to be born. It is our goal to share the future with those who seem at first potential opponents."

"In situations of conflict, some of the parties are first in denial - acting out a pretence, for example, that there is no injustice and that differences are a product of the false consciousness of others. The point of breakthrough is when we move from denial to the acceptance of compromise."

India-Pakistan tensions

Mr Hume also issued a warning about the build-up of tensions between India and Pakistan.

Warning India against military action of any kind and quoting Gandhi, he said: "Beware the short-term view, beware of overvaluing

Previous winners of the Gandhi Peace Prize have included Nelson Mandela, Dr Julius Nyerere, the former President of Tanzania, and Dr A T Ariyarante, founder President of the Sarvodaya Movement in Sri Lanka.

After receiving his prize Mr Hume is to travel to Sri Lanka at the invitation of INPACT - the Initiative for Political and Conflict Transformation.

He will meet the country's president, prime minister, foreign minister, cross-party MPs and business leaders.

He was invited to the country to discuss his experiences of conflict resolution to assist them in their own peace process.

See also:

17 Sep 01 | Northern Ireland
John Hume: Distinguished politician
17 Sep 01 | Northern Ireland
Hume steps down as SDLP leader
17 Oct 98 | Latest News
Nobel winner Hume soothes unionists
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