Also available in: Burmese.

New York The International Crisis Group will honour President Thein Sein of Myanmar and former President Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva of Brazil at its annual In Pursuit of Peace Award Dinner in New York City on 22 April 2013.

Crisis Group’s Award Dinner is an opportunity to celebrate inspirational figures from government, diplomacy and public policy whose visionary leadership has transformed the lives of millions and brought forth the promise of a world free of conflict.

“At a time when so much of the world seems to be headed in the wrong direction, Myanmar and Brazil stand out as clear examples of presidents working for a better path for their people”, said Thomas R. Pickering, Chair of the International Crisis Group.

“Both President Thein Sein and President Lula are worthy recipients in this regard, having helped Myanmar and Brazil take significant steps forward and encouraged a greater role for them in promoting regional and international diplomacy following years of isolation”.

Crisis Group President Louise Arbour said, “Myanmar has initiated a remarkable and unprecedented set of reforms since President Thein Sein’s government took over in March 2011, including freeing hundreds of political prisoners, liberalising the press and promoting dialogue with the main opposition party”.

Of course, Myanmar still needs to build on this political liberalisation to date. It must urgently find ways to address communal violence between the Rakhine and the Rohingya (as Crisis Group noted back in June and again in a report published earlier this month), which continues to devastate people’s lives, particularly those in minority Muslim communities. Still, the country has seen very significant progress: for the first time in almost fifty years, all but one of the ethnic armed groups have signed preliminary ceasefires with the government, and it is hoped that an agreement will also soon be reached with the Kachin Independence Organisation (read more about Crisis Group's work in Myanmar).

As President of Brazil from 2003 to 2010, Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva, known as Lula, propelled his country into a new economic and political era, taking millions out of poverty. Upon this solid foundation, his government became a critical regional and world player with a social agenda and bringing a South-South approach to international cooperation and global development.

President da Silva offered its regional neighbours a partnership, making integration a concrete reality. Brazilian diplomacy also helped its South American neighbours to face their own internal crises.

Brazil’s solidarity towards Africa was also notable with the country opening 17 new diplomatic missions there during President da Silva’s government. Brazil also took charge of the peacekeeping operation in Haiti and the naval part of the UN’s mission in Lebanon.

Lula’s government developed an autonomous diplomacy, in harmony with the demands of globalisation and its development projects. Variable alliances enabled the nation to exercise a worldwide presence and deepen its influence. Brazil’s coalitions, strategic partnerships and new alliances enabled the country and its partners to fill a power vacuum in the international field.

Now in its eighth year, Crisis Group’s In Pursuit of Peace Award Dinner recognises the outstanding accomplishments of individuals working to prevent and resolve deadly conflict worldwide. Previous recipients of the awards include: U.S. Presidents William Jefferson Clinton and George H.W. Bush; Nobel Peace Prize laureates Martti Ahtisaari and Ellen Johnson Sirleaf, and financier and philanthropist George Soros.

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