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
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
“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”.
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