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Nobel peace prize winner Mairead Maguire pictured in Gaza 2010. (Photo: Irish Times)

Peace Activists Protest Nobel Summit Partnership with US State Department

Nobel laureate pulls out of summit in protest of 'pro-war' partner; protesters gather in Chicago

Common Dreams staff

As The World Summit of Nobel Peace Laureates begins today in Chicago, activists are protesting the summit's partnership with the US State Department.

As Mikhail Gorbachev, the Dalai Lama and former U.S. President Jimmy Carter settle in to the three-day summit, Nobel laureate Mairead Corrigan Maguire has gained attention for boycotting the event. Maguire, who was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize in 1976 for peace activism in Northern Ireland, withdrew days ahead of the summit, saying she objected to the US State Department's open partnership with the event.

Mairead Maguire's statement: "On 10th April, Sec. of State H. Clinton appeared on video in US State Department Web announcing plans for the forthcoming Nobel Peace Laureates Summit and said ‘The US Department of State is proud to be an active partner in this event’."

"Sec. Clinton gave details of how the US State Dept. is working with US embassies around the world, to bring twenty students and 4 teachers from 4 countries to Chicago and explained that video conferences and portals for live streaming of events, will be managed by US State department."

"I have now decided, with some sadness, not to be associated in this Partnership as I do not agree with many of the Policies of the US State Department. Indeed I have, as a Nobel Peace Laureate, (and in the spirit of Alfred Nobel) often called for disbandment of NATO, end of militarism and war, and for Disarmament and demilitarization. I cannot therefore, in good conscience, be part of a Partnership with the US State Government (NATO). I also believe that my participation in such a partnership would compromise my position and put in jeopardy my work in the Middle East and other countries."

"I am very disappointed that what is a great opportunity for young people, the Nobel Laureates and organizations to listen, learn, and exchange friendships and experiences, has been, I believe, seriously compromised in such a Partnership."

Other's have announced plans to protest the event as the summit comes weeks before the NATO summit May 20-21. Anti-NATO and LGBTQ protesters will protest outside the event calling attention to NATO human rights abuses as well as the prosecution of alleged Wikileaks whistle-blower US Army Private Bradley Manning.

Anti-NATO protest leader Andy Thayer stated, "The Obama and Emanuel administrations organized the Nobel summit to give a pro-peace, pro-human rights gloss to NATO, using the Nobel laureates as window-dressing to rehabilitate the largest military alliance in world history. Nothing could be further from the ideals espoused by Arthur Nobel when he set up the Prize and it's a travesty that President Obama would use the Peace Prize to promote his pro-war policies."

* * *

Chicago Tribune: Nobel Peace laureates cancel Chicago appearances

In a letter to summit officials, Maguire said participating in a conference partnered with the U.S. government, a member of NATO, would compromise her position and jeopardize her work in the Middle East and other areas.

She specifically pointed to a videotaped address this month in which Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton said she was proud that the State Department was an "active partner" in the event.

"I have now decided, with some sadness, not to be associated in the partnership as I do not agree with many of the policies of the U.S. State Department," Maguire said. "Indeed I have, as a Nobel Peace laureate … often called for disbandment of NATO, end of militarism and war, and for disarmament and demilitarization."

In an unrelated move, laureate Tawakkol Karman, a Yemeni journalist who won the prize last year for her humanitarian efforts, informed organizers that she could not attend because of a scheduling conflict.

In addition to hosting the Nobel meeting, Chicago is scheduled to host the NATO summit next month.

* * *

* * *

Associated Press: Gorbachev, Carter and Dalai Lama among Nobel Laureates expected in Chicago for 3-day summit

The World Summit of Nobel Peace Laureates comes just weeks before Chicago hosts President Barack Obama and numerous foreign leaders for the NATO summit.

City leaders have already billed the summit as an opportunity showcase Chicago to the 11 Laureates expected to attend. Panel discussions and speeches will take place at the University of Illinois at Chicago, The Field Museum, the Art Institute of Chicago and Chicago Symphony Orchestra Hall. [...]

The NATO summit will be held May 20-21, and preparations for the meeting of global leaders have been intense.

The city has amped up security plans with Chicago police, the Illinois National Guard and state police, as thousands of activists are expected to protest the event. Chicago was also supposed to host the G-8 summit, but the Obama administration moved it to Camp David.

* * *

Chicagoist: World Summit Of Nobel Peace Laureates Begins Today

The summit comes weeks before the May NATO summit. Anti-NATO and LGBTQ protesters plan a protest outside the UIC Forum at noon to protest the Obama administration's prosecution of alleged Wikileaker, Army Private Bradley Manning. Manning is accused providing to Wikileaks the U.S. State Department cables which exposed the Bush and Obama administration's dealings with a host of dictators and human rights abusers around the world, and evidence of U.S. war crimes in Iraq and Afghanistan. (Obama is a 2009 Nobel Peace Prize Laureate.)

Anti-NATO protest leader Andy Thayer said in a statement:

"The Obama and Emanuel administrations organized the Nobel summit to give a pro-peace, pro-human rights gloss to NATO, using the Nobel laureates as window-dressing to rehabilitate the largest military alliance in world history. Nothing could be further from the ideals espoused by Arthur Nobel when he set up the Prize and it's a travesty that President Obama would use the Peace Prize to promote his pro-war policies."

Nobel Peace Prize Laureate Mairead Maguire canceled a scheduled appearance at the summit, citing a statement by Secretary of State Hillary Clinton that the State Department is an “active partner” in the event.

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