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Frequently Asked Questions


What is the UNHCR Nansen Refugee Award?

The UNHCR Nansen Refugee Award is presented every year to an individual or organization that has dedicated their time to help people forcibly displaced from their homes, referred to as the global laureate. Each year since 2017, several regional winners have also been recognized.

The Award is named after the celebrated Norwegian explorer and humanitarian Fridtjof Nansen. Through its recipients, the UNHCR Nansen Refugee Award aims to showcase Nansen’s values of perseverance and commitment in the face of adversity.

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 people 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, honouring Eleanor Roosevelt as the recipient.


Who can be nominated for the award?

Any individual, group of people or organization that has done extraordinary humanitarian work on behalf of refugees, displaced or stateless people is eligible – with the exception of former and current UNHCR staff, including United Nations Volunteers (UNVs) working for UNHCR offices, are ineligible.

Can I nominate myself?

Self-nominations are strongly discouraged. This includes individuals and organizations nominating themselves.

What criteria will be considered to determine the Global Laureate?

Nominees are considered 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 people; and
  • It should reflect the values of UNHCR.

Who selects the Global Laureate and Regional Winners?

The UNHCR Nansen Refugee Award Selection Committee chooses the Global Laureate and the Regional Winners. Its six voting members are:

  • 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 Chairperson of UNHCR’s Executive Committee; and
  • A guest member.  

Is the selection process confidential?

Yes, the selection of the Global Laureate and Regional Winners is completely confidential.

When is the deadline for nominations?

The nomination period for the 2023 edition of the UNHCR Nansen Refugee Award runs from 23 January to 17 March. 

How do I obtain a nomination form?

Nominations can be submitted in English, Spanish, French and Arabic at

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

All nominations must be submitted online. Once your submission is received, you will see a confirmation at the end of the form. If your nomination is successful, you will receive an email from the Nansen Team.

Must the nomination be in English?

No. Nominations can be submitted in English, French, Spanish and Arabic.

What do I need to provide to supplement my nomination?

Nominations should include a description of the nominee’s work and how they fulfil the selection criteria. This includes details of why the nominee should be considered, evidence that they have positively impacted the lives of forcibly displaced or stateless people, and links to supporting articles and publications. Additional information supporting the nomination – including websites, news articles, social media posts and other awards bestowed on the nominee – is welcome.

Do I need to provide references?

Nominations will not be considered if three references are not included. These referees should represent different perspectives (not from the same organization) and be able to verify specific ways in which the nominee’s work has made a significant impact on the lives of refugees, internally displaced people, stateless people, asylum seekers or resettled refugees.

How many winners does the UNHCR Nansen Refugee Award honour each year?

Since 2017, we have recognized several regional winners each year in addition to the Global Laureate. In 2022, the regional winners attended the ceremony for the first time.

The Global Laureate

How is the Global Laureate honoured?

In 2020 and 2021, the Global Laureate was honoured through a virtual ceremony due to the COVID pandemic. In 2022, the Global Laureate and the four Regional Winners were honoured at an in-person ceremony in Geneva that was live-streamed to audiences around the globe.

When will the 2023 Global Laureate be announced?

The Global Laureate is announced several days ahead of the ceremony.

Regional winners

Are other nominees recognized?

Yes. Each year we also recognize several regional winners for their humanitarian work.

The Ceremony

Where and when does the ceremony take place?

The Nansen ceremony is typically held in early October on the first day of the UNHCR Executive Committee’s annual meeting. In 2023, the ceremony will exceptionally take place in December in connection with the second Global Refugee Forum.

Can I attend the UNHCR Nansen Refugee Award ceremony?

Unfortunately, the event is not open to the public. However, you can watch a live broadcast of the ceremony on UNHCR’s global social media channels.


Are members of the media allowed to attend the ceremony?

Yes, media are welcome to attend the event. Journalists should contact the UNHCR Nansen Refugee Award Team beforehand to gain entry and will 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 can I arrange an interview with one of the winners?

Please contact the Nansen Refugee Award Team at [email protected] for further information.

Is there a media package?

Yes. Please contact the Nansen Refugee Award Team at [email protected] for further information.

Contact us

Our address:

UNHCR Nansen Refugee Award Team 
United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR)
Rue de Montbrillant 94, 1201 Genève 

Email: [email protected]

Connect with us:
Use the hashtag #NansenAward to share stories, videos and articles and keep up to date with the latest news.


How can I partner with the UNHCR Nansen Refugee Award?

Thank you for your interest in supporting the Nansen Refugee Award programme. Please write to [email protected] for further information.