Tutu received the award at a function commemorating the 20th anniversary of the submission of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission (TRC) report to the government. He and late anti-apartheid icon Alex Boraine chaired the commission.
The special award at the weekend came at the end of a Stellenbosch University-hosted global conference focusing on the ongoing negative impacts that colonialism, particularly in Africa, slavery and the evils of apartheid and genocide still have on past and present generations.
Tutu thanked conference delegates and academics, including retired Constitutional Court Judge Albie Sachs, who signed the award.
He also paid tribute to his fellow TRC commissioners, saying: “We had extraordinary people, like Dumisa Ntsebeza SC, to guide the TRC.
"The commission would have been absolutely nothing without people like Mary Burton, so gentle, quiet and unassuming. It was people like her and Glenda Wildschut who worked at the coalface. They did all the work and I got the kudos.”
“It is a pain to think that Alex Boraine is not here. We all know that we would not have been able to start the work of the TRC without him.
"He found us accommodation, he employed people - he did everything and I got the credit Yes the credit was given to creatures like me.
"The real reason is because I have a prominent nose and a short name,” said Tutu.
The event was the final item on the programme of the global conference.