Juliot Curie Medal: From Bangabandhu to Friend of the World

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Published on May 24, 2023
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Pollob Rana Parves:

Human history is filled with extraordinary individuals whose relentless efforts and contributions have shaped the world we live in today. The highest award for world peace is the 'Juliot Curie' award. Distinguished personalities from around the world have received this honour. Apart from Bangabandhu, other notable recipients of this rare accolade include Jawaharlal Nehru, the leader of India's independence struggle and the first Prime Minister, Fidel Castro of Cuba, Salvador Allende of Chile, Yasser Arafat of Palestine, Ho Chi Minh of Vietnam, Nelson Mandela of South Africa, former Prime Minister of India Indira Gandhi, poet and politician Pablo Neruda, and Martin Luther King Jr.

Today is May 23rd. It marks the 50th year of the prestigious Juliot-Curie Award received by the Father of the Nation, Sheikh Mujibur Rahman. On this day in 1973, the award was officially presented to Sheikh Mujibur Rahman. Under his extraordinary leadership in 1971, Bangladesh gained its independence. Just two years later, the United Nations formally conferred upon Sheikh Mujibur Rahman the "Juliot-Curie" award as international recognition. In a meeting of the Presidential Committee of the United Nations, attended by nearly 200 members from around 140 countries, and based on a unanimous consensus, the decision to award Sheikh Mujibur Rahman with the Juliot-Curie Award was made, considering his vision for life and his paramount role in Bangladesh's liberation war. Accordingly, on October 10th, 1972, the United Nations declared Sheikh Mujibur Rahman as the recipient of the award. The following year, on May 23rd, during a grand ceremony at the Asian Peace Conference, the then Secretary-General of the United Nations, Ramesh Chandra, presented the award to Sheikh Mujibur Rahman. At that event, Ramesh Chandra stated, "Sheikh Mujibur Rahman is not just the leader of Bangladesh; he is a global figure and a friend to the world." He became the first international award recipient among all the statesmen in independent Bangladesh.

The life of Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujibur Rahman, the founding father of independent Bangladesh, was dedicated to the struggle. Even in his student days, he was politically conscious and actively engaged in politics, particularly in the presence of Hussain Shaheed Suhrawardy. He was an enthusiastic worker during the Pakistan movement. Still, due to the anti-Bengali and anti-populist stance of the ruling establishment after the establishment of Pakistan, he did not delay in changing his position. He stood for justice and against injustice. His life was devoted to bringing smiles to the faces of the oppressed and destitute. He disregarded his personal happiness and tranquillity, prioritizing the liberation of the people of Bengal. It is because of this unwavering commitment that he emerged as Bangabandhu in 1969.
Sheikh Mujibur Rahman was sympathetic to the peace movement. During the Language Movement, he was imprisoned. In the same year, in October, the "Peace Conference of the Asian and Pacific Regions" took place in China. Bangabandhu participated in that conference along with several others. He had the opportunity to speak and exchange views with the peace movement leaders from 37 countries. His experiences from that journey are documented in the book "Amar Dekha Noyachin".

In April 5-9, 1956, Bangabandhu also participated in the conference of the World Peace Council held in Stockholm. Bangabandhu stated, "World peace is the guiding principle of my life. I stand with the oppressed, persecuted, exploited, and freedom-loving people, wherever they may be. We desire peace everywhere in the world, to make it prosperous."

The government led by Bangabandhu did not join any military alliances. He explicitly stated, "Rather than engaging in any arms competition, we believe in friendship with all countries and nations of the world for the well-being of all oppressed and persecuted people. We are committed to a policy of non-alignment outside military alliances."

On October 10, 1972, in Santiago, the capital of Chile, in a meeting of the Presidential Committee of the World Peace Council, Bangabandhu's contribution to the Bengali nation's liberation movement and world peace was recognized, and the proposal to award him the "Juliot Curie" Peace Medal was presented by Ramesh Chandra, the Secretary-General of the Peace Council, in the presence of 200 representatives from 140 countries.

Juliot Curie is an honorary medal of the United Nations Security Council. French physicist Jean Frédéric Joliot-Curie died in 1958. His wife's name is Irène Curie. They were both Nobel Prize-winning scientists. Irène's parents, Pierre and Marie Curie, were also Nobel Prize-winning scientists. Later, the United Nations Security Council named their peace medal after them in 1959, called the "Juliot Curie" medal.

Juliot-Curie Peace Medal is extremely prestigious. It would have been awarded to the group of individuals who have fought for the establishment of the rights of oppressed and persecuted people in the world. Similarly, the great leader Bangabandhu, 50 years ago today, honoured the Bengali nation with such recognition. On the 50th anniversary of receiving the peace-loving Bangabandhu Juliot-Curie Peace Medal, I express humble respect.


Writer: Employment secretary, Bangladesh Students League, Jatir Janak Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujibur Rahman Hall Unit, University of Dhaka.