The 6th World Summit of Nobel Peace Prize laureates opened in Rome Thursday, focusing this year on the Africa emergency. The Man for Peace award went to musician Bob Geldof, who appealed for free trade and urged the Group of Eight industrialized countries to keep to promises made at a summit last July.
On the first day of the three-day meeting of Nobel Peace Prize laureates in Rome, Irish rock star Bob Geldof received the Man for Peace award for his dedication to improving the plight of the poor, particularly in Africa.
Former Soviet leader Mikhail Gorbachev handed him the award. Mr. Gorbachev, who established the foundation in 1992, organizes the summit of Nobel peace laureates every year with the Rome city council.
Mr. Geldof said he was overwhelmed and deeply proud to receive the award. In July this year, the rock star organized a series of concerts in various cities around the world, including Rome and London, to raise awareness about global poverty. The concerts were staged a few days before a G-8 summit in Gleneagles, Scotland.
This year's Rome meeting is titled: "Africa Emergency, from Attention to Action." Mr. Geldof said the Africa emergency is without question the gravest immediate political problem of our time.
He urged the more than 20 Nobel peace prize laureates attending the meeting to discuss a mechanism, which would ensure that the promises made at the G-8 summit to double aid to Africa and cancel debt would be maintained.
"The promise of the powerful to the weak, once broken will kill them. We cannot break the promises of July 6, 2005, in Gleneagles. We cannot do that," he said.
Mr. Geldof said there must be monitoring to ensure the powerful countries keep their promises.
He said, because of the debt-relief deal, 290 million people today are beginning to come out of debt bondage and debt slavery. That, he said, is just the beginning.
Mr. Geldof said greater efforts must be to made to fulfill the promise of 2000 to halve the number of hungry people by 2015. And he stressed the need to change trade rules, at World Trade Organization talks in Hong Kong next month.
He urged the European Union to deal with the issue of agricultural subsidies, which account for 40 percent of the total European Union budget. He said, because Europe has subsidized farming, people die in Africa because they cannot enter European markets.
"What needs to be done is that African farmers, at $1 a day, have access, total free access to our markets, without us requiring them to open their small, infant economies in return. We must not demand reciprocity," he added.
Mr. Geldof said Africa must be allowed to trade itself out of poverty.