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UNESCO’s Tree of Peace award

Minister refutes Yunus’ claim of the accolade

Published : 27 Mar 2024 10:31 PM

Education Minister Mohibul Hasan Chowdhury has refuted claims that Nobel laureate Dr. Muhammad Yunus received a prestigious award named ‘The Tree of Peace’ from UNESCO. 

According to Mohibul, who also chairs the UNESCO Commission of Bangladesh, the Yunus Centre misled the public with inaccurate information.

The education minister made these statements during an interview with reporters at the Secretariat on Wednesday. He clarified that despite a press release from the Yunus Centre on March 21 and multiple news reports asserting that Dr. Yunus received the award during the XI Global Baku Forum, UNESCO did not bestow any such honour upon him.

The 11th Global Baku Forum, themed "Fixing the Fractured World," took place in Baku, Azerbaijan, from March 14–16. Nearly 400 prominent political figures, global leaders, ministers, and Nobel laureates participated in the event.

Minister Mohibul explained that the award was actually given by Israeli sculptor Hedva Sar, not UNESCO. He emphasised that Yunus falsely promoted it as a UNESCO accolade, leading to misconceptions.

Hedva Sar presented the memorial to Yunus during a conference in Baku, as per an invitation from the Ganjavi Foundation. The sculptor herself confirmed that UNESCO did not recognise Yunus. Consequently, the minister stated that an explanation will be forwarded to UNESCO to rectify the misrepresentation.

Mohibul condemned the Yunus Centre for falsely claiming the award on its website, calling it deceitful behaviour. He affirmed that Bangladesh, as a UNESCO member state, oversees the 

UNESCO Commission through the Ministry of Education.

Moreover, the minister denounced the act of recognising an Israeli sculptor under UNESCO's name, branding it as defamatory to the nation. He expressed his intention to inform UNESCO about Yunus's violation of labour laws, already as convicted, warning against disseminating false information under UNESCO's banner.

On Wednesday night, while browsing the Yunus Centre website, a post containing the information about the award recipients was discovered. It stated, ''At the closing evening of the XI Global Baku Forum, Professor Yunus was honoured with ‘The Tree of Peace’ award from UNESCO at the closing dinner of the XI Global Baku Forum.'' 

In an attempt to get an explanation regarding the minister's claim, the official phone number of the Yunus Centre was turned off in the afternoon yesterday.