September 16th, 2019
Amnesty International will present Greta Thunberg and the school strike movement with its “highest honour” for human rights work this evening.
Amnesty will award Thunberg and the Fridays for Future student-led movement with the Ambassador of Conscience title to recognize their “leadership on climate change”.
Amnesty International Secretary General Kumi Naidoo is set to present the award to Thunberg and other school strikers in Washington DC in conjunction with other Amnesty offices around the world who will be presenting the award to student climate activists in their own country.
Colm O’Gorman, Executive Director of Amnesty Ireland, presented the award earlier today to Irish school strikers in Lucan Community College in Dublin. He called the change they have brought about “incredible and awe-inspiring”.
“They truly are leaders in this movement; forcing the climate emergency onto the agenda of governments, their communities and corporations,” Mr O’Gorman said.
“What I’m particularly humbled by is that these young activists in Ireland are fighting not only for their own futures. They are taking action for the lives of millions of people who are at risk or already suffering in other countries, particularly the Global South.”
The Ambassador of Conscience Award was founded in 2002, and previous recipients include Malala Yousafzai, Nelson Mandela, and the indigenous rights movement in Canada.
The award comes just days before a mass international climate strike is set to take place on 20 September, one called by Thunberg herself to include both children and adults.
The protests will be held just days before the United Nations Climate Action Summit in New York, where international leaders are set to present “concrete, realistic plans” to improve 2020 emission reduction goals and set the world on track for net-zero emissions by 2050.
Demonstrations will be held throughout Ireland, including Dublin, Cork, Donegal, Limerick, Galway and Kerry. In March, thousands of students gathered in front of the Dail in Dublin urging the government to implement immediate and effective climate action. A follow-up strike in May saw thousands mobilize once more to reiterate their concerns.
The school strike movement began in the summer of 2018, when Thunberg started protesting on the steps of her parliament during the school day to demand that her government take greater action on tackling climate change.
In her address at the 2018 UN climate summit, she called on young people around the world to lead on climate action, and asked citizens throughout the globe to “realize that our political leaders have failed us”.
“We have not come here to beg the world leaders to care for our future. They have ignored us in the past and they will ignore us again,” she said.
“We have come here to let them know that change is coming whether they like it or not. The people will rise to the challenge”.