Seventeen-year old Abraham M. Keita from Liberia is the 2015 winner of the International Children’s Peace Prize. He was presented with the prestigious award for demanding justice for children who are victims of physical or sexual violence, and for successfully campaigning for the Liberian parliament to adopt the Children’s Law. The award was given to him at a ceremony at The Hague in the Netherlands on 9 October.
In the presence of the world press Keita received the Prize from Nobel Laureate Leymah Gbowee who in 2011 was the first Liberian to receive the Nobel Peace Prize for her nonviolent struggle for the safety of women and for women’s rights to full participation in Liberia’s peace-building process. Gbowee said: “It is a great honour to award the Prize. It is very special and inspiring that Keita, already at such a young age, demands that perpetrators and would be perpetrators be held accountable. I recognise in him a true changemaker: fighting to end the extreme violence against children!”
In September, Keita was nominated by Nobel Peace Laureate Desmond Tutu, patron of KidsRights and the International Children’s Peace Prize, together with Aziza Rahim Zada from Afghanistan and Jeanesha Bou from Puerto Rico. Keita’s tireless work as a campaigner, bringing attention to crimes against children and campaigning until the perpetrators are locked away, stood out and convinced the jury. Keita also played a leading role in the Liberian Children’s Parliament where he successfully lobbied the Liberian Parliament to adopt the Children’s Law to protect children’s rights.
The KidsRights Youngsters, the group of winners of the International Children’s Peace Prize, which includes Nobel Peace Laureate Malala Yousafzai, congratulated Keita wholeheartedly: “We are happy to welcome Abraham to the Youngsters. Together we will continue the fight to improve children’s rights and advocate for an immediate end to violence against children.”
Upon receiving the Prize today, Keita confirmed that their work will continue: “Together with my peers I have successfully lobbied for children’s rights laws, but they now need to be put into practice. Children worldwide are still exposed to violence and injustice while thugs often go unpunished. I want people across the globe to acknowledge that this is unacceptable and that every world citizen, whether young or old, can be an agent of change.”
The International Children’s Peace Prize is an initiative of KidsRights, the foundation committed to defending children’s rights worldwide. The award ceremony is held annually in The Hague, the Netherlands, the international city of peace and justice. The prize is awarded annually to a child who fights courageously for children’s rights. Every year, the message of the new young winner has enormous impact and demonstrates to millions of people globally that change is possible.