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World Renown Diplomat to be featured at 2012 Commencement


UNCTAD XI – 2004 Sao Paulo – Brazil Anwarul K. Chowdhury, Under-Secretary-General High Representative for the least Developed Countries, Landlocked Developing Countries and Small Island Developing Countries date: June 16th 2004 photo:BEL PEDROSA/UNCTAD



Ambassador Anwarul Karim Chowdhury, former United Nations (UN) Security Council president, UN Children’s Fund (UNICEF) president, and permanent representative of his native country of Bangladesh to the UN in New York, will be the principal speaker at this year’s commencement ceremony.

Chowdhury firmly believes in the importance of education and believes it paves the way for peace.

Chowdhury has always pushed for incorporating peace studies into the curriculum of educational institutions around the world. In a speech he gave at the The Soka Gakkai International (SGI-USA) Culture of Peace Resource Centers in New York, he said, “A key ingredient in building a culture of peace is education. This needs to be accepted in all parts of the world, in all societies and countries as an essential element in creating a culture of peace.”

In the same speech Chowdhury said, “The young need the skills and knowledge to create and nurture peace for their individual selves as well as the world they belong to. Peace studies should be incorporated into every educational system.”

The university will present Chowdhury with the Chancellor’s Medal for Global Leadership for Peace. According to the official UMass Boston website, the award is in honor of his service to the world through the UN and for his promotion of peace and tolerance through education. In addition to this award, Chowdhury has received recognition for his work in developing countries, his work for equal rights, and his work for the rights of children. Chowdhury was awarded the UN Thant Peace Award, the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) Gandhi Gold Medal for Culture of Peace, and the Spirit of the UN Award.

Chowdhury is renowned for his work in developing countries, pushing for global peace and fighting for children’s and women’s rights. In a symposium on “The Role of Women in World Peace,” sponsored by Lehman College of the City University of New York, and the International Health Awareness Network, Chowdhury stated: “We should not forget that when women are marginalized, there is little chance for an open and participatory society.”

His initiative in March 2000 as the President of the Security Council led to the adoption of the ground-breaking UN Security Council Resolution 1325 on the role of women in peace and security. This represented the first legal and formal document from the United Nations Security Council which required parties in a conflict to respect women’s rights and to support their participation in peace negotiations and in post-conflict reconstruction.

Chowdhury’s special interest regarding education and individual action as gateways for peace is exemplified in a statement made to The International Association of Women in Radio and Television: “The seeds of peace exist in all of us, and they must be nurtured by all of us, individually and collectively, so that they flourish. Peace cannot be imposed from outside; it must be generated from within.”

In addition to being a staunch diplomat, Chowdhury is a huge fan of Shah Abdul Karim, a famous Bangladeshi folk musician. A documentary was made about the life of Karim titled “Bhatir Purush.” Because of his admiration, the documentary makers dedicated a 10-minute segment to Chowdhury.

Previous commencement speakers include President Barack Obama (in 2006), Tim Russert, Victoria Reggie Kennedy, Emily Rooney, and David McCullough.