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.
Jørgen Nørredam was the representative of the League of Red Cross Societies in various countries in Africa, where he worked tirelessly on behalf of the forcibly displaced. A posthumous winner of the Nansen Award, the Danish citizen was killed in a plane crash while on his way to Tanzania to organize a refugee settlement.
Lucie Chevalley spent decades helping refugees in France and other countries in Europe. In 1921, she founded the Service Social d'Aide aux Emigrants, which become one of the main centres in France for international aid to refugees. She was also member of the state council in France for refugees and stateless people.
Ana Rosa Schlipper de Martinez Guerrero, founder of the Argentine Women's Association and head of the Association for the Protection of Refugees in Argentina, launched refugee aid in her country and set up the Santa Rita home for older refugees and those living with disabilities. She was a posthumous winner.
Dame Anne May Curwen, founder and president of the British Council for Aid to Refugees whose whole life was devoted to serving those in need of help from their fellow men, especially refugees. She was the British delegate to the UN Refugee Fund from 1954 to 1958.
Italian UNHCR worker François Preziosi and Jean Plicque of the International Labour Office died in August 1964 trying to protect and help Rwandan refugees in the Kivu region of eastern Congo, which remains volatile to this day. Preziosi's death highlighted the extremely fragile and contradictory environment that international relief officials were working in, even in those early years.
The International Council of Voluntary Agencies, or ICVA, received the Nansen Medal in recognition of the unremitting efforts of voluntary agencies and individual voluntary workers to help refugees in the field on a day-to-day basis.
Sir Tasman Heyes was honoured for his work as head of the Australian Commonwealth Department of Immigration from 1946 until 1961. Under Sir Tasman's leadership, more than 270,000 refugees entered Australia, including hundreds of people with disabilities and many refugees of European origin from China.