- Associated Press - Monday, April 23, 2012

CHICAGO — The U.S. needs find a way to be a leader in global peace, former President Jimmy Carter said Monday at a gathering of Nobel Peace Prize winners.

Mikhail Gorbachev and the Dalai Lama are just a few laureates expected in Chicago for the three-day summit, the first of its kind in North America. The World Summit of Nobel Peace Laureates comes just weeks before Chicago hosts President Obama and numerous foreign leaders for the NATO summit. The Nobel summit has taken place for a dozen years, but this is the first time it’s been held on this continent.

“We need to be reminded of the standards that the Nobel laureates have always tried to achieve … just because in their own communities they saw a need for change” in areas such as human rights, environmentalism and peace, Mr. Carter said.

City leaders already have billed the summit as an opportunity to showcase Chicago to the 11 laureates expected to attend. Panel discussions and speeches will take place at the University of Illinois at Chicago, the Field Museum, the Art Institute of Chicago and Chicago Symphony Orchestra Hall.

The Nobel laureates also are scheduled to tour more than a dozen Chicago public schools on Monday. Later Monday, they’re scheduled to attend a dinner with former President Bill Clinton.

“Our students come from every nation, ethnicity and background,” Mayor Rahm Emanuel, a co-chairman of the summit committee, said in a statement. He added that the leaders will “discuss their crusade for human rights and peace, giving our students an experience that will both inspire them and give them something to aspire to.”

The Nobel summit - titled “Speak Up, Speak Out for Freedom and Rights” - runs through Wednesday.

Other Nobel Prize winners expected to attend include former Polish President Lech Walesa and professor Muhammad Yunus of Bangladesh. Actor Sean Penn will be presented with the 2012 Peace Summit Award for his work in Haiti.

Some of the winners already have made Chicago-area appearances. Mr. Gorbachev addressed students Saturday at Judson University in Elgin, where he where he talked about global politics.

“In America, a lot has been done to advance democracy,” he said, according to remarks released by the university. “The laws here really can protect the individual. I do not mean to overpraise you.”

However, he added that America still faces many problems and said the U.S. has continued to impose one economic model on the rest of the world.

The NATO summit will be held May 20 and 21 at McCormick Place, and preparations for the meeting of global leaders have been intense.

The city has amped up security plans with Chicago police, the Illinois National Guard and state police, as thousands of activists are expected to protest the event. Chicago also was supposed to host the Group of Eight summit, but the Obama administration moved it to Camp David.

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