Archive of Past Nansen Winners
Past Winners of the Nansen Award
More than 60 individuals, groups or organizations have won the Nansen Refugee Award since it was inaugurated in 1954. The first winner was Eleanor Roosevelt, the first chairperson of the UN Human Rights Commission and wife of legendary US President Franklin D. Roosevelt.
She has been followed by an illustrious group of individuals, including French President Valéry Giscard d'Estaing, Tanzania's President Julius Nyerere, King Juan Carlos I of Spain, Graça Machel and late Italian tenor Luciano Pavarotti.
A number of humanitarian organizations, and partners of UNHCR, have won the award, which has included a cash prize since 1979. Among them are the League of Red Cross Societies. Médecins sans Frontières, Handicap International and the UN Volunteers. In 1986, the Nansen went to the people of Canada - the only country to have received the award as a nation.
Crown Princess Sonja of Norway, who made exceptional efforts in raising awareness in Norway about refugees. The princess also visited reception and transit centres in areas where refugees were often facing life and death problems, such as on the Thai-Cambodian border. She became Queen in 1991, when her husband Crown Prince Harald succeeded King Olav V, who won the Nansen Award in 1961.
Major-General Paul Cullen, for his work as head of the humanitarian aid and development organization, Austcare (Australian Care for Refugees). Maj-Gen Cullen gave vital encouragement to voluntary work for refugees in Australia and also promoted refugee aid in other areas, especially in Pakistan.
Social scientist Maryluz Schloeter Paredes won for her role as director general of the Venezuela branch of the International Social Service, a voluntary agency which assisted thousands of refugees from European and Latin American countries. Schloeter used her experience as a social scientist and her deep interest in youth problems, to help refugee children. She played a vital role in their rehabilitation at the Catia Community Centre in Caracas.
The prize was awarded to recognize the action taken by France in favour of refugees under the leadership of then President Valéry Giscard d'Estaing. It also paid tribute to the support that France has always given to humanitarian causes and to the generous policy of asylum practised by France.
Sir Seretse Khama, the first President of Botswana, was awarded the Nansen Medal in recognition of his country's exceptional services to refugees. The people and government of Botswana gave shelter to thousands of victims of racial discrimination and other forms of persecution.