2011 Conrad N. Hilton Humanitarian Prize: Handicap International
April 20, 2011
Dr. Jean-Baptiste Richardier, Director of Handicap International Federation, et chère Madame, Mr Conrad Hilton, member of the Board of Directors, dear government representatives from the White House, State Department and USAID, dear friends from Handicap International,
ladies and Gentlemen, dear Friends,
It is a real pleasure and a great honor for me to welcome each and everyone of you at the Residence of France to celebrate the winner of the 2011 Conrad N. Hilton Humanitarian Prize: Handicap International.
It is the second time that a French NGO, French at the time of its founding and global today, wins this very prestigious award, considered as the Nobel prize of the humanitarian sphere.
Our event tonight comes just a few days after the official award ceremony that took place on April 13th during the Global Philanthropy Forum in Redwood City, California, in presence of President Steve Hilton and Michelle Bachelet, Executive Director of “UN Women”.
Let me apologize for the fact that this Residence is not as accessible to people with disabilities as it should be, and assure you that the renovation that will soon start will include this dimension as a real priority.
I am all the more pleased to welcome you here knowing how much it means personally to the man who accepted the prize, the director and co founder of Handicap International, a man who with his wife Marie has dedicated his life to the cause of the handicapped and the most vulnerable, Jean-Baptiste Richardier.
Not only have Jean-Baptiste Richardier and all his colleagues, staff and volunteers helped hundreds of thousands of people with disabilities over the years but they have also contributed to change attitudes towards the handicapped and the most vulnerable in general.
Clearly, States do still matter, but the world today would not be the same without the breadth and depth of the national and international organizations of the civil society. And France owes a lot, domestically and internationally to its NGOs and their remarkable work around the globe.
As the French Ambassador to the United States, it is clearly one of my key priorities to support our NGOs and foster collaborations between organizations of the civil society from our two countries in every field, from research and education to the arts and of course in the crucial field that you represent tonight. NGOs represent often the best a country can offer, and it is clearly the case for Handicap International.
Cher Conrad Hilton, thank you for being with us tonight. Your presence means a lot to all of us. I know how dear to you the legacy of your grandfather is and how involved your foundation is in helping the most disadvantaged. Let me congratulate you and the Hilton Foundation for the wonderful work you are doing, and tell you how pleased we are that the Conrad Hilton Foundation decided to recognize this year the tireless work of Handicap International around the globe.
I am not only saying this because we are proud that Handicap International was born in France, but because this prize honors nearly 30 years of extraordinary commitment in assisting people with disabilities in situations of poverty, exclusion, conflict and disaster.
From Cambodia where Jean-Baptiste Richardier and his wife Marie started to imagine what would one day become Handicap International, to the wars and conflicts of today, we all know Handicap International amazing contribution to the world in helping so many individuals regain their independence.
We all know about Handicap International leading role in the International Campaign to Ban Landmines (ICBL), and they were collectively rewarded by the Nobel Peace Prize in 1997.
The Conrad Hilton prize represents a new landmark in the development of Handicap International. Thanks to this prize, Handicap International will be able to face the challenges still ahead.
Handicap International is still a growing organization and we are lucky in DC to have such a dynamic branch led by Wendy Batson and Beth McCairn, both present tonight, under the leadership of Ms. Roz Grigsby, Chairwoman of the Board of Handicap International in the United States, whom I’m also pleased to acknowledge.
Ladies and gentlemen from Handicap International and from sister organizations, your commitment is a source of admiration and inspiration for all of us. So my warmest congratulations again to Handicap International and our deepest thanks to the Conrad Hilton Foundation. And I now give the floor to Dr. Jean-Baptiste Richardier ./.