May 9, 2006 — In recognition of their outstanding contributions to the promotion of international understanding, University of Utah President Michael K. Young, former chair of the United States Commission on International Religious Freedom (USCIRF), and U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations H.E. John Bolton will be honored by the New York Office of Public and International Affairs of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (LDS) Wednesday in New York City. The “Evening of International Understanding” will bring together key opinion leaders, including members from the international, political, business and religious communities, including U.N. ambassadors and the New York-based Consulate General.
The anticipated audience of 200 will include U.N. ambassadors, consulate general, U of U alumni, church and religious leaders and business and political leaders, including New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg. Former Utah State Governor Olene Walker, who is currently serving an LDS mission with the Church’s Public Affairs Office in New York, said, “This is an exciting event that gives the University of Utah, through President Young”s recognition, a unique association with ambassadors from 50 countries. Our attempt is to build bridges with the United Nations in the world today. Friendships are critical to better understanding different cultures and countries. The work President Young did while serving on the Commission for International Religious Freedom is extremely important and goes hand in hand with the efforts of U.N. Ambassador Bolton in helping to foster better understanding around the world.”
In anticipation of this award, Young said he is thrilled and honored. “If this recognition can raise awareness of the efforts needed in this area, it will serve as more than just an honor for me. I am accepting it on behalf of people who do not have a voice, whose causes we are championing. The real courage is to be found in the people who are suffering and who have stayed true to their values and beliefs.” Young added that, “The true benefit of this award will be the attention it brings to the problem of intolerance and suffering in the world.”
The U.S. Commission on International Religious Freedom (USCIRF) was created by the International Religious Freedom Act of 1998 (IRFA) to monitor the status of religious freedom abroad as defined in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and to give independent policy recommendations to the U.S. President, Secretary of State and Congress. The Commission helps to give the U.S. government and its citizens the tools necessary to advance religious freedom and human rights throughout the world. The bi-partisan Commission, which began work in May 1999, is an independent federal agency. Its efforts have taken the Commission to Sudan, China, Europe and the Middle East to aid people who are suffering religious or other ideological persecution.
According to Joseph R. Crapa, executive director of USCIRF, “Mike Young, one of USCIRF’s founding fathers along with John Bolton, “has a passion for justice. Mike turned a legislative concept into an effective institution of American foreign policy. As commissioner and as chair, Mike had a wise and compassionate world view as well as incredible knowledge of the details of policy, politics and law. Much of the work protecting rights to freedom of religion depends on law and its interpretation. In this, Mike was both a superb scholar and practitioner.”
President Young was appointed by the United States Senate to serve two three-year terms, the last two years as chair of the Commission. Ambassador Bolton served on the Commission during its creation in 1998.
For more information about USCIRF, go to http://www.uscirf.gov/.