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.
Dorothy Houghton, the third Nansen Medal winner, worked tirelessly to enhance the interest of voluntary agencies in the plight of refugees. She also played a leading role in encouraging the admission of refugees to her country and in carrying out the United States Escapee Programme, launched in 1952 to assist those fleeing Eastern Bloc countries.
Gerrit Jan van Heuven Goedhart won the award posthumously for his valuable work on behalf of refugees as the first United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees. He put much of his energy into securing funds to help the hundreds of thousands of people still displaced after World War II. UNHCR won the Nobel Peace Prize under his watch in 1954.
Queen Juliana of the Netherlands left no stone unturned to promote international aid to refugees and lobbied for support from US Presidents Truman and Eisenhower. In her own country, she gave guidance to the most effective fund-raising campaigns for refugees.
Legendary humanitarian Eleanor Roosevelt won the first Nansen Award for her long fight for universal freedom of speech and religion, freedom from fear and want. She chaired the committee that drafted and approved the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. The award was also to honour her late husband, US President Franklin D. Roosevelt, who in 1938 promoted the setting up of the Intergovernmental Committee on Refugees.