March 19, 2012

Twenty Nobel Peace Laureates to Convene in Chicago for 12th World Summit of Nobel Peace Laureates

Sean Penn to receive annual Peace Summit Award at April summit

Mayor's Press Office    312.744.3334

CHICAGO—Chicago will welcome 20 Nobel Peace Laureates from 17 countries around the globe this April 23 – 25 for the 12th World Summit of Nobel Peace Laureates. The Permanent Secretariat of the World Summit of Nobel Peace Laureates, together with the 2012 Chicago Host Committee, have announced that eleven Nobel Peace Prize-winning individuals and nine Laureate organizations are currently confirmed to attend and participate in the three-day event—the first time the international peacemaking summit will be held in North America.

In addition to convening Nobel Laureates, the World Summit annually recognizes a high-profile personality making an outstanding contribution to international social justice and peace. Sean Penn, actor, founder and CEO of J/P Haitian Relief Organization, will be presented with the 2012 Peace Summit Award during the summit for his work to rebuild and aid the victims of the devastating 2010 earthquake in Haiti, as well as his ongoing advocacy for peace and human rights protection worldwide. 

"It’s difficult to properly respond to this while avoiding cliché,” Penn said. “But quite deliberately, I'm thrilled to receive this tribute and to represent it to the youth of Haiti, the strong women of Haiti, and of the world. Tomorrow is a new day where cynicism is for cowards, and men of virtue and agency will be true heroes to their sons. Many in my generation know cowardice well, but not the youth, and not the women. And NEVER the Haitians. This is an extraordinary honor in an extraordinary moment on Earth. I'm very grateful."

The World Summit of Nobel Peace Laureates is internationally recognized as among the most important annual events in the field of peacemaking, attracting Nobel Peace Laureates and high-profile leaders and organizations from around the globe. The Summit is organized by the Permanent Secretariat of the World Summit of Nobel Peace Laureates on a yearly basis in partnership with a host city. 

“Chicago is honored to be the first North American city to host the World Summit of Nobel Peace Laureates, and we look forward to welcoming distinguished guests from around the globe in April,” said Mayor Emanuel, honorary co-chair of the World Summit Host Committee. “The decision to host this event in Chicago reflects the profile of our city as an international leader in civic dialogue and community involvement. While the Summit is a global event, it will have a local impact and leave a lasting legacy on our city.”

The 12th World Summit, themed “Speak Up, Speak Out for Freedom and Rights,” will focus on peace, human rights and youth involvement. Programming will include six high-level panel discussions, including a kick-off session with five former heads of state, including President Mikhail Gorbachev, President Lech Walesa, President Frederik Willem de Klerk, President Óscar Arias and President Jimmy Carter.

Nobel Peace Laureate individuals currently confirmed to attend the 12th World Summit:

  • Mrs. Mairead Corrigan Maguire, Northern Ireland (1976)
  • President Lech Wałęsa, Poland (1983)
  • President Óscar Arias, Costa Rica (1987)
  • His Holiness the Dalai Lama, Tibet (1989)
  • President Mikhail Gorbachev, Russia (1990)
  • President Frederik Willem de Klerk, South Africa (1993)
  • Professor Jody Williams, United States (1997)
  • President Jimmy Carter, United States (2002)
  • Dr. Shirin Ebadi, Iran (2003)
  • Professor Muhammad Yunus, Bangladesh (2006)
  • Ms. Tawakkol Karman, Yemen (2011)


Nobel Peace Laureate Organizations currently confirmed to attend the 12th World Summit:

  • International Peace Bureau (1910)
  • American Friends Service Committee (1947)
  • International Committee of the Red Cross (1963)
  • Amnesty International (1977)
  • International Physicians for the Prevention of Nuclear War (1985)
  • PUGWASH Conferences (1995)International Campaign to Ban Landmines (1997)
  • United Nations/Department of Economic and Social Affairs (2001)Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (2007)

The World Summit is chaired by the former Soviet President and Nobel Peace Laureate Mikhail Gorbachev and co-chaired by former Mayor of Rome, Hon. Walter Veltroni. Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel will serve as the Summit’s Honorary Co-Chair. The Chicago Host Committee is co-chaired by Illinois Governor Pat Quinn; Chris Kennedy, past president of Merchandise Mart Properties, Inc.; Kerry Kennedy, president of the Robert F. Kennedy Center for Justice and Human Rights; Terry Mazany, president and CEO of The Chicago Community Trust; and Michael Sacks, CEO of Grosvenor Capital Management and vice chairman of World Business Chicago. 

"This is a wonderful opportunity for Chicagoans--and young people in particular--to start a dialogue about empowerment and inspire one another to stand up for human rights at home, in the classroom, or on the world stage,” said Kerry Kennedy. “Hundreds of students from Chicago public schools have spent part of this year learning from the Speak Truth to Power curriculum and now, thanks to the 2012 Summit, they'll have the opportunity to hear the stories of these twenty remarkable human rights defenders firsthand."  

For more information on the 12th World Summit of Nobel Peace Laureates and the Laureates who have confirmed their participation, please visit Follow the Summit on Twitter at @nobelforpeace and on Facebook at


The Permanent Secretariat of the World Summit of Nobel Peace Laureates together with The Robert F. Kennedy Center for Justice and Human Rights, The Chicago Community Trust, John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation, City of Chicago and World Business Chicago are collaborating with to organize the 12th World Summit. Sponsors include: Grosvenor Capital Management L.P., Coventry, Vista Equity Partners, Chrysler (Jeep), The John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation, BMO Harris Bank, Clear Channel, DePaul University, The Robert R. McCormick Foundation, Harris Associates L.P., The Spencer Foundation, Wendy and Jim Abrams, The Joyce Foundation, Liz and Eric Lefkofsky, ASCA, The Field Museum, JW Marriott Chicago, the University of Illinois at Chicago, Chicago Symphony Center and the Art Institute of Chicago.