His Holiness the 14th Dalai Lama (C), Professor Shirin Ebadi of Iran (L) and South African Archbishop Desmond Tutu leave the stage after receiving honorary degrees from the University of British Columbia in Vancouver, April 19, 2004. Tenzin Gyatso, has lived in exile in India since 1959, but he is still considered by many to be both the spiritual and political leader of the Tibetan people. The Dalai Lama kicks off his 19 day tour of Canada with four days of lectures in Vancouver. REUTERS/Lyle Stafford
VANCOUVER — On a day that saw further bloodshed in the Middle East, three Nobel Peace Prize winners brought together here Monday called for non-violent resolutions to world conflict.
The Dalai Lama, retired South African Archbishop Desmond Tutu and human-rights activist Shirin Ebadi spoke to a gathering at the University of British Columbia before being granted honorary degrees.
The exiled Tibetan Buddhist monk, who delivered a sold-out spiritual teaching to thousands in Vancouver over the weekend, vowed to fight to protect the culture and civil rights of people living in his Himalayan homeland.
"I want to assure you these commitments I will carry to my death," he told the audience in faltering English, his traditional red and yellow monk's robes temporarily traded in for an academic gown.
The trio will participate Tuesday in a roundtable discussion at the university.
Tutu, who received the peace prize in 1984, told the crowd it was significant for him to participate at this particular time, as South Africa will soon celebrate "10 years of freedom."
"We have recently held our third general election and we even know how to count our votes," said the former Anglican head in a wry voice.
Tutu also urged audience members to "help realize God's dream" by working for the greater benefit of humanity.
Behind him sat Ebadi, a Tehran-based lawyer and one of the first female Iranian judges. She was forced to resign her position after the Iranian revolution in 1979 and was awarded the peace prize in 2003.
Speaking through a translator, she said lasting peace would come through "the influence of other cultures on each other."
"The world will experience tranquillity and lasting peace will prevail at the time when the enforcement of the regulations and laws of human beings are universal and all inclusive," she said.
Ebadi smiled and nodded her head slightly as she was serenaded on stage by a young Iranian opera student.
Shirin Eskandani, 20, said it was an emotional experience for her to sing the traditional Iranian folk song to a woman she called a hero.
"We're both women. In Iran it's so hard to get to certain positions and get yourself known for something that's great and amazing."
The Dalai Lama arrived in Vancouver on Saturday, greeting Tibetan community members and interfaith leaders before leading thousands in a spiritual teaching and public talk.
He was to be feted at a musical tribute by actress Goldie Hawn on Monday night.
The Tibetan monk will fly to Ottawa later in the week to be greeted by Prime Minister Paul Martin in what his handlers have described as a strictly spiritual capacity. The Dalai Lama was also greeted by B.C. Premier Gordon Campbell at a private luncheon in Vancouver on Sunday.
Most of his time in Canada will be spent in Toronto, where he will perform the Kalachakra ritual, one of the most important ceremonies in the Tibetan Buddhist faith.
The Dalai Lama last visited Canada in 1993.
His arrival prompted stern warnings from the Chinese government, who considers him a separatist political leader. The Dalai Lama has insisted he is only seeking greater autonomy for Tibet.