The Hollywood legend and leading humanitarian - who won the 2006 Best Actor Academy Award for his portrayal of Ugandan dictator Idi Amin in The Last King of Scotland - visited Edinburgh to be crowned Postcode Hero at the annual People's Postcode Lottery Charity Gala.
Mr Whitaker was honoured for his dedication to empowering young people through his work and promoting peace around the world.
During the ceremony - held at the Edinburgh International Conference Centre - the actor and filmmaker, who founded the Whitaker Peace & Development Initiative (opens in new tab), received a cheque for £500,000 on behalf of his charity. He was interviewed on stage by BBC broadcaster Clive Myrie.
The money was raised by players of People's Postcode Lottery and will be used to support initiatives and programmes in disadvantaged and fragile communities.
Mr Whitaker said, "Even in the face of immense challenges, we can come together as communities to heal and transform. With hope and optimism for the future, we should all strive to promote education, peace, and reconciliation.
"I am deeply grateful to players of People's Postcode Lottery for their support which helps us build a better future for all."
Rob Williams, CEO of the charity War Child and a previous Postcode Hero recipient, handed over the cheque on stage. Both charities, War Child and Whitaker Peace & Development Initiative, support the rehabilitation of ex-child soldiers.
Whitaker Peace & Development Initiative provides skills and opportunities to young people and women in regions affected by violence and armed conflict in South Sudan, Uganda, Cameroon, Chad, Gabon, and South Africa. The organisation also works in Mexico and the United States.
While filming The Last King of Scotland, former child soldiers on the movie set shared their past experiences and ideas on how to make their communities more peaceful.
This deeply affected Mr Whitaker, who grew up in a disadvantaged black neighbourhood in South Central Los Angeles, where he saw too many young people killed or caught up in gang-related violence.
The actor's much-celebrated performance in The Last King of Scotland, playing opposite Scots actor James McEvoy, earned him a BAFTA, Golden Globe and an Academy Award for Best Actor and marked the start of his peace advocacy journey. Forest Whitaker is also a UNESCO Special Envoy for Peace and Reconciliation and a United Nations Sustainable Development Goals advocate.
People's Postcode Lottery Managing Director Clara Govier said, "The annual Postcode Hero award is more than just a recognition of outstanding achievement. It represents the tireless efforts of those who share a vision for a better future.
"We are immensely proud that our players have now raised over £1.1 Billion to support such great efforts, including the empowerment of young people around the globe, helping to change lives for the better.
"This award would not have been possible without them - together we really can make a difference."