U2 have been awarded the 'Ambassador of Conscience' Award for 2005 by Amnesty International. Speaking of the award, Nobel Literature Laureate Seamus Heaney said that 'U2 have sung themselves to where great singing comes from, that place where art and ardency meet in the light of conscience.'
The award was made to band members and manager Paul McGuinness. Irene Khan, Amnesty International Secretary General, praised U2 for doing arguably 'more than any other band to highlight the cause of global human rights in general and Amnesty International's work in particular.'
'Their leadership in linking music to the struggle for human rights and human dignity worldwide has been ground-breaking and unwavering. They have inspired and empowered millions with their music and by speaking out on behalf of the poor, the powerless and the oppressed.'
Previously won by Vaclav Havel and UN Commissioner for Human Rights Mary Robinson, the award 'recognises exceptional individual leadership and witness in the fight to protect and promote human rights.'
It is made on a day when human rights are being celebrated around the world and Amnesty International launches a global music venture 'Make Some Noise'. The award cites U2's work with Amnesty since the mid-1980's, the Conspiracy of Hope Tour in 1986, Live Aid to Live 8 and the way the band have promoted the Universal Declaration of Human Rights on the Vertigo Tour.
Bill Shipsey, founder of Art for Amnesty -- the global artist support network that organises the Award -- said that through songs like Pride (In The Name of Love), MLK, Miss Sarajevo, Mothers of the Disappeared, Walk On and One, U2 has helped spread the human rights message of Amnesty International to a global audience.
'But U2 is, and always has been, about much more than just music. Band members have used their music and celebrity to champion countless human rights causes. Through their more recent involvement with DATA and The One Campaign they have brought the issues of debt, aid and trade -- particularly as they affect Africa -- to the world's attention. They have shown that it is not enough to leave it to the politicians and 'traditional' world leaders to change the world. They have empowered and inspired millions of people with their music, their example and their action.'
Check out Amnesty's Make Some Noise here http://www.amnesty.org/noise