John Hume, leader of the Social Democratic and Labour Party, SDLP, the Northern Irish member of the Socialist International, was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize in Oslo on 16 October jointly with David Trimble, a leader of the Northern Irish Unionists and First Minister of Northern Ireland. The Prize was an acknowledgement of the two men's commitment to a cessation of the violence. This violence has claimed 3,000 lives in the past decades and has affected the nationalist, republican and Unionist communities in the territory.
Hume was born in poverty in Derry in 1937 the eldest of seven children of an unemployed man and his wife. His father never had the opportunity of going to school. The prize winner's initial excursion into politics came in 1960 when he helped to found a local credit union with four members and a fund totalling 7 pounds sterling. It now has assets of 21 million pounds sterling and a membership of 14,000.
He took part in the civil rights movement which was forming in his city in the 1960s and 1970s. In 1970 he helped to form the SDLP with the aim of ending political injustice in Northern Ireland and of moving towards a united Ireland on the basis of consensus and non-violence.
He is a member of the House of Commons in Westminster and the European Parliament.
László Kovács has been elected president of the Hungarian Socialist Party, MSzP, a Socialist International member party, in succession to Gyula Horn, the former Prime Minister. Kovacs is a former Foreign Minister and co-Chair of the SI Committee for Central and Eastern Europe.
Jorge Antonio Meléndez, succeeds Ana Guadalupe Martínez as President of the Democratic Party, PD, of El Salvador.
Walter Veltroni is the new Chair of the Italian Democrats of the Left, DS.
Carlos Rojas replaces Juan Millán as General Secretary of the Institutional Revolutionary Party, PRI, of Mexico.
María Emma Mejía, former Colombian Foreign Minister and vice-presidential candidate in this year's election has been named director of the Institute of Liberal Thought in Bogota of the Liberal Party of Colombia, a member of the SI.
Gilberto Barradas, a lifelong member of Democratic Action, AD, the Venezuelan member party of the Socialist International, died in October after an illness bravely borne over the years. He was born into Democratic Action of which his father was a founding member alongside Romulo Betancourt and others. He played an active part in the fight against the dictatorship of General Marcos Perez Jimenez and in his eventual overthrow in 1958. He was a distinguished orator. After democracy was established, Barradas applied himself to his studies and, eventually joined the Venezuelan diplomatic service. In later years he was, given his acute gift for analysis of Venezuelan and international affairs, invaluable in the international secretariat of the party. He represented it abroad on numerous occasions. He leaves many friends in the party and in the International.