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Frequently Asked Questions


Who was Fridtjof Nansen?

Fridtjof Nansen was a Norwegian explorer, scientist, diplomat, humanitarian and Nobel Peace Prize laureate who served as the first High Commissioner for Refugees at the League of Nations. The legacy of his work for the aid and protection of displaced persons is still present in the UN system today.

When was the Nansen Refugee Award instituted?

The first Nansen Refugee award ceremony took place in 1954, honoring Eleanor Roosevelt as the recipient.


Who can be nominated for the award?

Any individual, group of people, or organization that has displayed extraordinary humanitarian work on behalf of refugees, displaced, or stateless peoples is eligible to be nominated. Former and current UNHCR staff, including United Nations Volunteers (UNVs) working for UNHCR offices, are ineligible. Self-nominations are strongly discouraged.

Can I nominate myself, my organization, or a colleague with whom I work?

Self-nominations are strongly discouraged. The following are considered self-nominations:

  • Individuals or organizations nominating themselves;
  • The nomination of a current colleague and/or individual within the same organization; and
  • In some cases, the nomination of an individual or organization coming from a person who has worked for/with the nominee in the past.

Former and current UNHCR staff, including United Nations Volunteers (UNVs) working for UNHCR offices, are ineligible.

What criteria will be considered to determine the winner?

Nominees are considered by the Nansen Refugee Award Committee in the following light:

  • The deed for which the person/ entity is nominated should take place outside the framework of normal professional duties and go beyond the call of duty;
  • It should demonstrate courage;
  • It should raise awareness for displaced peoples; and
  • It should reflect the values of UNHCR.

Who selects the winner?

The Nansen Refugee Award Committee comprises:

  • A member designated by the Norwegian Government;
  • A member designated by the Swiss Government;
  • The Secretary General of the Council of Europe;
  • Executive Director of the International Council of Voluntary Agencies;
  • The High Commissioner for Refugees;
  • The Chairman of Executive Committee; and
  • A guest member, rotated each year.

When is the deadline for nominations?

The nominations process opens the 1st October, 2013. The deadline is 3rd February, 2014.

How do I obtain a nomination form?

Nomination forms are available for download at the "Nominations" tab of the Nansen Refugee Award Website at: http://www.unhcr.org/nansen/4eca0f7b6.html .

How do I submit a nomination? How can I be sure it has been received?

All nominations must be sent to the Nansen Secretariat at nansen@unhcr.org. The Nansen Secretariat confirms receipt of each nomination.

Must the nomination be in English?

No. Nomination forms are available for download in either English or French. Nominations are accepted in any of the official languages of the United Nations (English, French, Spanish, Arabic, Russian, and Chinese).

What do I need to provide to supplement my nomination?

Nominations consist of a brief description of the nominee's professional background, a brief description detailing why the nominee should be considered for the award, a list of publications about the nominee, if applicable, and three references. The nomination should contain verifiable information about the nominee's work with or for UNHCR's people of concern (refugees, displaced people, stateless people, asylum seekers, and resettled refugees) and why their work has made a significant impact on their lives and well-being. Additional information supporting the nomination- including websites, news articles, videos, or other awards bestowed on the nominee- is welcome.

How many winners are honored with the Nansen Refugee Award annually?

As a general rule, one recipient is chosen each year. In exceptional circumstances more than one winner has been awarded.


When will the winner be announced?

Each year the winner is announced in the month of September, ahead of the ceremony in October.

Where and when does the ceremony take place?

The official ceremony presided over by the High Commissioner for Refugees is held annually in October in Geneva, Switzerland, the world's humanitarian capital.

Can I attend the Nansen Refugee Award ceremony?

Unfortunately, the event is not open to the general public. However, public broadcasts of the ceremony take place in tandem.


Are members of the media allowed to attend the ceremony?

Yes, media are welcome to attend the event. Journalists should contact the Nansen Refugee Award Secretariat beforehand to gain entry, and will be be accredited upon arrival at the venue. Please note that possible restrictions, including on recording, photography, and copyright, may apply.

I am working on a feature article/broadcast story. How do I obtain an interview with the appropriate person?

Please contact the Nansen Refugee Award Secretariat at nansen@unhcr.org for further information.

Is there a media package?

Yes, see here. Please contact the Nansen Refugee Award Secretariat at nansen@unhcr.org for further information.


How can I sponsor the Nansen Refugee Award?

Thank you for your interest in supporting the Nansen Refugee Award program. Please contact the Nansen Refugee Award Secretariat at nansen@unhcr.org for further information.