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Ladies and Gentlemen,
It is a pleasure and an honour for me to present Sean Penn with the Cinema for Peace Honorary Award today.
That Sean Penn should be receiving an award on an evening of film will surprise hardly anyone. But Sean Penn is not being honoured today because he is a successful actor. Today we are honouring Sean Penn as a committed member of the global society.
Some people think globalization is first an economic phenomenon. But globalization is not primarily the globalization of markets. What we are experiencing right now is the globalization of values, the globalization of freedom, of a readiness to help, of humanity and compassion.
None of us can forget the terrible images of the dreadful earthquake in Haiti. People fearing for their lives. Children’s eyes pleading for help. Haiti is no longer in the headlines. But the people there are still suffering sorrow and hardship. The people in Haiti still need our help. Each of them, like each of us, just has one life on this earth.
Sean Penn began his help for the people in Haiti just hours after the earthquake had struck. Just as he did after the devastating Hurricane Katrina in New Orleans. His organization provides medical care for the victims. It gives people a new roof over their heads, who from one moment to the next have lost everything. The really special thing about this help, as we hear from the people on the spot, is that it is so quick, so effective and so direct.
Let me give you an example: German journeying carpenters built shelter for an orphanage. There were huge problems getting a supply of clean water. Some children had already got sick with cholera. At first the carpenters didn’t know who to turn to for help for the children. Finally they rang up Sean Penn’s organization. It took just this one phone call, and water filter buckets were delivered to the orphanage.
Governments have a special obligation in crisis situations. But politics is far more than just government action. Each and everyone of us bears responsibility for the society in which we live.
Sean Penn, today you are receiving the Cinema for Peace Honorary Award in recognition of your work for the people of Haiti. You are receiving it because you save lives. You are receiving it because you are right there for the people on the ground. You are receiving the Honorary Award today because you give the people of Haiti hope.