MCC friend wins UN peace prize
Mennonite Central Committee staff – 05/01/13
The peacebuilding efforts of Bishop Emeritus Paride Taban, a longstanding friend of Mennonite Central Committee (MCC), were recognized at a March 1 ceremony in Geneva, Switzerland.
Bishop Emeritus Paride Taban, a long-term friend of Mennonite Central Committee, recently won a U.N. award for peace work he did in South Sudan. Photo courtesy of Håvard Kleppa, the Oslo Center.
The Catholic bishop from South Sudan won the United Nations 2013 Sergio Vieira de Mello Peace Prize for his work with the Holy Trinity Peace Village in Kuron, where he helped to build peace and trust among people in conflict over cattle rustling.
Willie Reimer, director of programs for MCC Canada, was an MCC representative in Sudan, 1986-1995.
He and former MCC worker Harold Miller were instrumental in helping to form the New Sudan Council of Churches with Taban as leader. The Sudan Council of Churches (same organization, different name) is still an MCC partner in Sudan and South Sudan today.
“Bishop Paride Taban is an influential peacebuilder who has made exceptional contributions in very difficult circumstances to peacebuilding work in Sudan and the newly formed country of South Sudan,” Reimer said.
According to a Taban biography published by the Duke Center for Reconciliation for a 2008 MCC event in Kampala, Taban “persisted in ministry despite being bombarded daily by the Sudanese air force, being abducted and enduring long-term food shortages.”
In his role with the New Sudan Council of Churches, Taban traveled around the world during the 1980s and 1990s asking for oil companies to cease doing business with the government of Sudan, according to the biography.
After seeing a peace village in Israel in 1999, Bishop Taban retired in 2004 and set up the Peace Village in Kuron, in Sudan’s Southeast Kapoeta province. Here he carried out the peacebuilding work for which he received the U.N. award.
MCC has supported peacebuilding projects in Sudan and South Sudan for more than 40 years. Currently, MCC continues to work with local partners to provide opportunities for development, emergency assistance, interfaith dialogue, HIV and AIDS training and educational opportunities.