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.
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.
King Olav V of Norway gave inspiring leadership to Norway's relentless efforts to find durable solutions for refugee problems. He was the first Norwegian awarded the prize named after his illustrious compatriot
Four young Englishmen, Christopher Chataway, Colin Jones, Trevor Philpott and Tim Raison were recognized for their work in the World Refugee Year (WRY) of 1959, a little remembered but vastly successful campaign to help the world's refugees. WRY, which involved 45 countries and raised tens of millions of dollars, is said to have helped inspire later campaigns such as Live Aid in 1985. Chataway, also a noted athlete, and Raison later became Conservative government ministers.