Update: The Adela Dwyer-St. Thomas of Villanova Peace Award event scheduled for Monday, Feb. 15 has been cancelled.
Villanova, Pa. –The Center for Peace and Justice Education at Villanova University will present its 2015 Adela Dwyer-St. Thomas of Villanova Peace Award to Lieutenant-General Roméo Dallaire, founder of the Child Soldiers Initiative—a project aimed at eradicating the use of child soldiers—and an outspoken advocate for human rights and genocide prevention initiatives.
Dallaire will accept the award and present a lecture, “Are All Humans Human?” on Monday, February 15 at 5 pm on-campus in the Villanova Room at the Connelly Center. The event is free and open to the public. Since 1990, the Adela Dwyer-St. Thomas of Villanova Peace Award has recognized an individual or group annually for outstanding contributions to the understanding of the meaning and conditions of justice and peace in human communities.
Dallaire, a former Canadian Senator and retired Canadian Army Lieutenant-General, is likely best known for the time he spent as Force Commander of the United Nations Assistance Mission in Rwanda (UNAMIR) prior to and during the 1994 genocide. Dallaire warned the United Nations about the now-infamous planned massacre, which ultimately took more than 800,000 lives in less than 100 days. However, the UN denied Dallaire permission to intervene and withdrew its peacekeeping forces from the region. Dallaire, along with a small contingent of Ghanaian soldiers and military observers, chose to remain in Rwanda to fulfill their ethical obligation to protect those who sought refuge with the UN forces.
“General Dallaire lives out an extraordinary commitment to human rights, powerfully demonstrating that such rights are essential to the pursuit of peace,” said Kathryn Getek Soltis, Director of the Center for Peace and Justice Education at Villanova. “After painfully witnessing the failure of humanity in the Rwandan genocide, General Dallaire's work to prevent the use of child soldiers shows that humanity can also generate incredible hope through creativity, perseverance, and the willingness to place oneself close to those who are suffering.”
Dallaire’s courage and leadership in Rwanda earned him the Meritorious Service Cross, the United States Legion of Merit and the Aegis Award on Genocide Prevention. Following his medical release from the Canadian Army in 2000, Dallaire served on the UN Advisory Committee on Genocide Prevention, as Special Advisor to the Minister of Veterans Affairs Canada, as Advisor to the Minister of National Defense, and as Special Advisor to the Minister responsible for the Canadian International Development Agency on matters relating to War Affected Children.
Dallaire is also the author of two best-selling and award-winning books. His experiences in Rwanda are detailed in Shake Hands with the Devil – the Failure of Humanity in Rwanda, winner of the Governor General’s Literary Award for Non-Fiction in 2004 and the “Shaughnessy Cohen Prize” for political writing awarded by the Writers' Trust of Canada. It has also been entered into evidence in war crimes tribunals trying the perpetrators of the Rwandan genocide. Dallaire’s most recent book, They Fight Like Soldiers; They Die Like Children – the Global Quest to Eradicate the Use of Child Soldiers, introduces the Child Soldier phenomenon and solutions to eradicate it.
The University’s Center for Peace and Justice Education selects its annual Adela Dwyer-St. Thomas of Villanova Peace Award recipient from a list of candidates nominated by members of the Villanova University community. Past winners include NETWORK; Wendell Berry; Leymah Gbowee; Noam Chomsky; Daniel J. Berrigan, SJ; Sister Helen Prejean, CSJ; Project H.O.M.E.; and Archbishop Desmond Tutu.
About Villanova University: Since 1842, Villanova University’s Augustinian Catholic intellectual tradition has been the cornerstone of an academic community in which students learn to think critically, act compassionately and succeed while serving others. There are more than 10,000 undergraduate, graduate and law students in the University's six colleges – the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences, the Villanova School of Business, the College of Engineering, the College of Nursing, the College of Professional Studies and the Villanova University School of Law. As students grow intellectually, Villanova prepares them to become ethical leaders who create positive change everywhere life takes them. For more, visit www.villanova.edu.