Sean Penn has been honored with a 2012 Peace Summit Award for his humanitarian work in Haiti. Accepting the award from former Soviet President Mikhail Gorbachev, the two-time Oscar winner gave an emotional speech at the 12th World Summit of Nobel Peace Laureates in Chicago, Illinois on Wednesday, April 25.
"It's an overused phrase, I know, but I trust you know its genuine today, I am humbled. I'm trembling and I like it," said the leading man of "The Tree of Life" as he thanked the organization for the recognition. Joined on-stage by the Dalai Lama and former Polish President Lech Walesa, he used the occasion to urge more aid for the country ravaged by a devastating earthquake in January 2010.
"It would take a poet laureate to describe for you the courage and the dignity of (Haiti's) people," the ex-husband of Robin Wright Penn continued. "There are no people on earth more willing to pull themselves up by their bootstraps. But as Dr. Martin Luther King said, 'It's fine to tell a man to pull himself up by his own bootstraps, but evil to tell a man to do so without boots.' "
Penn, who spends at least half his time in Haiti, is the first non-Haitian to be designated an ambassador-at-large for President Michel Martelly. The 51-year-old actor, who directed "Into the Wild", is also the founder and CEO of J/P Haitian Relief Organization, an aid group that manages two camps serving as homes to about 18,000 people.
Introducing Penn, who was honored at the 12th World Summit for "making an outstanding contribution to international social justice and peace", was Udo Janz. The United Nations high Commissioner for Refugees said of the "Mystic River" star, "He actually exchanged his home in Malibu for a tent. Think of it as the Oscar for your humanitarian commitment Sean."