About the Award

The first Nansen Refugee Award recipient was Eleanor Roosevelt, first Chair of the UN Human Rights Commission and First Lady of the United States alongside President Franklin D. Roosevelt. Over the years, more than 60 individuals, groups or organizations have received the award for their extraordinary service to refugees and outstanding work on behalf of the displaced.

Winners receive USD 150,000, generously donated by the governments of Switzerland and Norway, to pursue a project to assist displaced people, developed in close consultation with the UNHCR.

"We must raise our banner in every country and forge the links of brotherhood around the world."

Fridtjof Nansen

Fridtjof Nansen served as the League of Nations first High Commissioner for Refugees from 1920-1930, helping hundreds of thousands of refugees to return home. His efforts enabled many others to become legal residents and find work in the countries where they had found refuge.

Nansen saw that one of the biggest problems facing refugees was the lack of internationally recognised identification papers. His solution, which came to be known as the ‘Nansen passport’, was the first legal instrument for the international protection of refugees.

When famine broke out in Russia in 1921-1922, Nansen organised a relief programme for millions of its victims. For his crucial work, he was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize in 1922.