Formerly known as the Nansen Medal, this award is named after the late Norwegian polar explorer Fridtjof Nansen, the first League of Nations High Commissioner for Refugees and the 1922 Nobel Peace Prize laureate.
Instituted in 1954, the Nansen Refugee Award is given annually to an individual or an organization in recognition of extraordinary and dedicated service to refugees and is the most prestigious honour conferred by UNHCR. The award consists of a commemorative medal and a US$100,000 monetary prize donated by the governments of Norway and Switzerland.
Anybody can nominate someone or some organization for the Nansen Award, but a special committee selects the annual winner. Recipients have been chosen from many different areas. Whatever their creed, colour, age or profession, every winner put in extraordinary effort and time to help the forcibly displaced around the world.
The monetary prize that accompanies the Nansen Award is intended to enable the recipient to pursue refugee assistance projects drawn up in consultation with UNHCR. To date, so-called Nansen Fund projects have benefitted refugees in places such as Cambodia, Botswana and Venezuela.
They have contributed towards the setting up of a special ward for refugee children in Pakistan, the building of schools at Katumba in Tanzania and income-generation projects for people displaced by landmines in southern Lebanon.
More than 60 individuals, groups or organizations have won the Nansen Refugee Award since Eleanor Roosevelt became the first winner in 1954. Photojournalist Alixandra Fazzina was named the 2010 winner for her powerful documenting of the lives of those displaced by conflict.
The deadline for submission of nominations for the 2011 Nansen Refugee Award is 28 February 2011.
Who can nominate and be nominated?
- Any person can nominate candidates (individuals, groups of people or organizations) involved in work supporting the cause of refugees to be considered for the Nansen Refugee Award.
- Nominations are encouraged for a variety of candidates, ranging from people who have exhibited extraordinary acts of courage, selflessness or dedication to government and political leaders, members of civil society and aid workers who have given life-long service to the refugee cause.
- Self-nominations and nominations of current or former UNHCR staff are not encouraged.
The Award is bestowed annually by the Nansen Refugee Award Committee, which is chaired by the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees and comprises a number of personalities nominated by governments and international agencies.
- Nominations are received by the Nansen Refugee Award secretariat, wihich conducts technical research to verify that the candidate exists and that they are eligible to be nominated.
- A UNHCR advisory group meets to compile a short list of 10 candidates. This is reviewed in more depth before it is considered by the Committee and the laureate is selected. The Committee seeks to achieve a unanimous or majority decision.
- When the laureate is selected, the person, persons or organization is informed of the decision, and the Committee waits for their acceptance.
- The Award ceremony is normally held in September or October in Geneva.
For more information see http://www.unhcr.org/pages/4cdd15036.html