We are greatly honoured to have the support and endorsement of these highly respected peace advocates:
Archbishop Desmond Tutu
Archbishop Emeritus Desmond Tutu is one of the greatest living moral icons of our time. He was a key player in the fight against apartheid in South Africa and the chair of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission, and in 1984 was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize. From his work against apartheid in South Africa, to his championing of democracy, freedom and human rights – including for those still living under the scourge of racism, xenophobia and homophobia – Archbishop Tutu has served as the vocal conscience of a generation. When Archbishop Tutu retired in 1996, Nelson Mandela told those at a dinner to honour him:
His joy in our diversity and his spirit of forgiveness are as much part of his immeasurable contribution to our nation as his passion for justice and his solidarity with the poor.
In 2007 Archbishop Tutu, Nelson Mandela and Graça Machel convened The Elders, a group of world leaders who contribute their integrity and leadership in dealing with some of the world's most pressing problems. Archbishop Tutu is now an Honorary Elder, having served as chairman for six years, and continues to work energetically in a number of areas of human rights.
Archbishop Tutu was involved in the work which led to International Alert’s founding in 1986 and was the first Vice-Chairman of our Board of Trustees. On his role as our patron he says:
I am delighted and honoured to become a patron of International Alert. They have been a force for peace for many years and the time has come for people to recognise the results of their quiet work of peacebuilding – the lives that International Alert gives back to so many communities in Africa, Asia, Latin America and the Middle East who have suffered from violent conflict and the lives that have been protected as violent conflict has been prevented.
Brian Eno is frequently referred to as one of popular music's most influential figures – a composer, producer, visual artist and a pioneer of musical electronics.
He came to fame in the early 1970s as a founding member of the band Roxy Music. His solo albums and collaborations with John Cale, Robert Fripp, David Byrne, Jon Hassell and David Bowie have been in worldwide circulation for over 30 years. He has produced records for artists including U2, Talking Heads, David Bowie, Jane Siberry, Coldplay and performance artist Laurie Anderson. He identified and described 'ambient music' and 'generative music', both of which have since become major musical movements.
He has also been involved in the design and production of audiovisual gallery installations since 1978. Currently these use his 77 Million Paintings software – a system which produces an endless and non-repeating series of changing paintings. He produced (with Peter Chilvers) Bloom – one of the most successful music apps for the iPhone. His widely used set of oracle cards, Oblique strategies, was first published in 1975 and remains in print today. His diary and essays, A year (with swollen appendices), was published in 1996.
A committed activist in the anti-war movement, he is a board member of the British American Security Information Council (BASIC) and the environmental NGO ClientEarth. On his role as our patron he says:
Peace is the precondition for civilisation. In its absence there is poverty, wasted lives and resources. But peace isn't the default condition of humanity: it's something we have to work towards creating and maintaining. International Alert has been building sustainable peace in some of the world's most challenging conflict regions for over 25 years. I hope you will join me in supporting their efforts.
Emmanuel Jal was born in war-torn southern Sudan on an unknown date in the early 1980s, into the life of a child soldier.
Through unbelievable struggles, he managed to survive and emerge as a recording artist, achieving worldwide acclaim for his unique style of hip hop with its message of peace and reconciliation, born out of his personal experiences.
In 2005 he released his first album, Gua ('peace' in his native Nuer tongue). The title track was broadcast across Africa and became a number one hit in Kenya. He has gone on to release further studio albums, including Ceasefire, Warchild and See Me Mama.
In 2008 a full-length documentary was released about his life, entitled Warchild. It won 12 film festival awards worldwide, including the Audience Choice Award at the prestigious Tribeca Film Festival. The same year, his autobiography of the same name was published by Little Brown.
Despite his accomplishments in music and film, one of Emmanuel's biggest passions is Gua Africa, the charity he founded to work with individuals, families and communities to help them overcome the effects of war and poverty. In 2013 he was awarded the Calgary Peace Prize and the Humanitarian Award from the Hunt Institute.
My own goal is to raise awareness about peace: the right to live equally, the right to freedom and justice, and where every child has hope for their future in a safe environment. I am proud to be a patron of International Alert, which has been working alongside local people to bring peace and prevent violence for nearly 30 years.
Mark Stephens CBE has been described by the Law Society Gazette as “the patron solicitor of previously lost causes”.
He is a lawyer, broadcaster, writer and lecturer, and has undertaken some of the highest profile cases in the UK and abroad, including the occupation of the Brent Spar oil platform, the censorship of the blasphemous film, Visions of Ecstasy, and the so-called 'McLibel Two', which became the longest running court case in UK history. The Times has described him as both a "passionate supporter of human rights" and "one of the best advocates for freedom of expression".
He has practiced before every level of court in England and Wales, and before international tribunals and courts. He is also a Privy Council Agent regularly working with a range of overseas lawyers. He has been retained by a number of foreign governments to advise and to represent their interests. He has also litigated in countries as diverse as Antigua, India, Iraq, Iran, Malaysia, Samoa, Singapore and the US.
He is extremely active in many other areas too, having been appointed by the UK Foreign Secretary to the Foreign and Commonwealth Office’s Free Expression Advisory Board and he is the Vice President of the Commonwealth Lawyers Association. He also chairs a number of bodies including the Contemporary Art Society and University of East London, and sits on the board of Index of Censorship, the Bianca Jagger Human Rights Foundation, and the Human Rights Council of the International Bar Association.
For many years we have talked about ending global poverty, but without peace, prosperity will always remain a distant dream. As long as conflict continues, people will remain poor, frightened, dispossessed and angry. We have the opportunity to make the world a safer and more prosperous place for generations to come if we face up to the challenges of tackling conflicts and shape thoughtful solutions that address the underlying problems. We must hold to account those who proliferate conflict through the exploitation of natural resources. International Alert has been working towards this for over 25 years and the time has come to put the spotlight on their work. I hope you will join me in supporting their efforts.
Professor Wole Soyinka is an acclaimed author who has written in various genres, including the novel, drama, essays, poetry and autobiography, and in 1986 was awarded the Nobel Prize in Literature.
Among his best-known, widely translated works are: Death and the king’s horseman (drama); Samarkand and other markets I have known (poetry); Aké: the years of childhood and You must set forth at dawn (autobiographical); and Climate of fear, a collection of his 2004 BBC Reith lectures.
He is active in various human rights and cultural organisations, including the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO), where he is a Goodwill Ambassador. He is currently President’s Professor at Loyola Marymount University, Los Angeles and Professor Emeritus at Obafemi Awolowo University, Ile-Ife, Nigeria.
As remote as the moon once appeared to mankind, peace remains the ultimate yearning, even in the furnace of conflict. Every initiative by individuals, institutions, even governments in pursuit of this prize is a leap of faith. It transcends even the pioneer astronauts' 'one small step for man', its optimism the starting block towards the crowning 'giant leap for humanity'.