Rudi Vranckx, the roving correspondent for the Flemish public broadcaster VRT, has been awarded the Carnegie Wateler Peace Prize for his career in reporting on foreign affairs for the channel. The award puts Vranckx on a par with Henry Kissinger, Unicef and the founder of the scouting movement, Robert Baden-Powell.
Vranckx accepted the award, he said, in the name of all of his colleagues. “In the past 25 years, around 2,000 of my colleagues have been killed,” he said. “This year that was happening at the dizzying rate of two a week. They gave their lives to tell a story.”
And he took advantage of his acceptance speech to make a point about the growth of populism in politics worldwide.
“The spread of fear is a best-seller product on the 21st century political market,” he said. “But those who spread fear today are laying the foundations for the war crimes of tomorrow.”
And he paid tribute to those who work in the opposite stream.
“Peace is not born out of major conferences, and certainly not from social media and its hateful tweets,” he said, in a clear reference to US president Donald Trump. “No, it’s born here and everywhere at one time out of the fibres of society. Teachers, lawyers, doctors, human rights activists, the families of victims. Those are the ones who make a difference in the end. After all these years, I still feel privileged to be able to tell their stories. They are the heroes of our times.”