Magazine article New Internationalist

Swimming against the Tide (the Right Livelihood Award for Social Improvement)

Magazine article New Internationalist

Swimming against the Tide (the Right Livelihood Award for Social Improvement)

Article excerpt

It is easy to be overcome by gloom when contemplating the worst that human beings are capable of. So we should contemplate the best, too.

The Right Livelihood Award, often called the Alternative Nobel Prize, is dedicated to recognizing some of the people working selflessly to change the world for the better. Here are the winners for 1995.

SERB CIVIC COUNCIL (Bosnia)

Created in March 1994 by Serbs loyal to the multi-ethnic democratic government in Sarajevo, the Serb Civic Council now has about 50,000 members--a third of all Serbs living in areas still controlled by the Bosnian Government. Its own vision of peace is based on the preservation of a democratic and sovereign Bosnia-Herzegovina in which all citizens' rights and freedoms are guaranteed in accord with the highest international standards. Members have been targeted for assassination by snipers, not least because of their links with resistance leaders operating within the region controlled by Radovan Karadzic's Pale regime. The Serb Civic Council's president is Mirko Pejanovic.

British historian Adrian Hastings calls their work 'an outstanding contribution to the cause of humanity, a contribution fully comparable with that of those Germans who 50 years ago participated in the resistance to Nazism. It is, nevertheless, a contribution which the international community has deliberately ignored, anxious as it is to explain the conflict--quite mistakenly--as a 'civil war' between Muslims and Serbs, when it is in fact a war between a democratic and legitimate government, backed by an overwhelming majority of its population, and a fascist and terrorist movement.'

HUNGARIAN FOUNDATION FOR SELF-RELIANCE/ANDRAS BIRO (Hungary)

Andr!!! ERROR BAD CHAR a0 !!! Bircents founded the Hungarian Foundation for Self-Reliance in 1990 to reinforce democratization by supporting initiatives on the environment and on minority rights (particularly those of the Roma or gypsy community), and by promoting civil society and grassroots democracy. The Foundation acts as a channel for voluntary aid from overseas, giving grants to grassroots organizations. But it is also leading an initiative to address the problems of the Roma in Bulgaria, Romania and Slovakia as well as Hungary, concentrating on income-generating schemes--the Roma have been particularly badly hit by the ballooning unemployment which has followed the switch to the free market. …

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