International charity Save the Children is facing uproar, including from internal staff, for granting the "global legacy award" to former UK Prime Minister and Iraq War architect Tony Blair.
The award was given to Blair by the U.S. arm of the organization at a gala in New York City last week. Save the Children, which claims "protecting children from harm" as a key mission, lauded Blair for his alleged role heading anti-poverty initiatives at the 2005 Group of Eight summit in Scotland and for his "continued commitment to Africa."
The move unleashed a torrent of criticism, including a petition, with over 90,000 signatures so far, calling on Save the Children to revoke the award on the basis that Blair is seen by many as "the cause of the deaths of countless children in the Middle East with damning allegations relating to his role as Middle East envoy and businesses dealings with autocratic rulers and others in the region."
Critiques erupted across social media platforms, including Twitter:
Within Save the Children, an internal letter denouncing the award as "morally reprehensible" gathered nearly 200 signatures, including from some senior staff members, the Guardian reports.
“We consider this award inappropriate and a betrayal to Save the Children’s founding principles and values," the letter states. "Management staff in the region were not communicated with nor consulted about the award and were caught by surprise with this decision."
Staff warned that the award threatens the credibility of Save the Children, given that figures at the head of the charity have close ties with Blair, including John Forsyth, UK chief executive for Save the Children, who was a special adviser to Blair for three years.
Krista Armstrong, global media manager for the charity, reportedly told the Guardian last week that Save the Children has received a "high volume of complaints and negative reactions to rewarding the award."
Blair was also awarded as "philanthropist of the year" by GQ in September—a decision that was also met with widespread criticism and shock.