The laureate receives USD 150,000 to invest in their humanitarian work. Additionally, four regional winners from each global region are selected and honoured with a certificate.

Our 2020 laureate is Ms. Mayerlín Vergara Pérez - known as Maye - a human rights activist, campaigner and the Caribbean Regional Coordinator for the Renacer Foundation, a non-governmental organization in Colombia that has been working for decades to eradicate the sexual exploitation of children and adolescents, many of whom are refugees. 
Ms. Pérez was honoured during the UNHCR’s Nansen Refugee Award first ever virtual ceremony on 5 October for her outstanding work, towards the eradication of sexual exploitation and other gender-based violence of children and adolescents. Read more about this extraordinary laureate.

FAQs - nominations

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.

Can I nominate myself?

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

What criteria will be considered to determine the winner?

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 winner?

The Nansen Refugee Award Selection 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 Chairperson of Executive Committee; and
  • A guest member.

Is the selection process confidential?

Yes, the selection of the winner and finalists is completely confidential.

When is the deadline for nominations?

The deadline to submit nominations is midnight CET, 28 February 2021.

How do I obtain a nomination form?

Please find the nomination from here.

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

All nominations must be submitted online. Once the nominations are closed, you will receive a response from the Nansen Secretariat to confirm we have received the nomination.

Must the nomination be in English?

No. Nominations can be submitted in any of the official languages of the United Nations (English, French, Spanish, Arabic, Russian, and Chinese). Please contact the Nansen secretariat for a different language version template: [email protected]

What do I need to provide to supplement my nomination?

Nominations consist of 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 the forcibly displaced and links to articles and publications as evidence. 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 be diversely selected and have the ability to verify the nominees’ work with or for refugees, displaced people, stateless people, asylum seekers and resettled refugees and why their work has made a significant impact on their lives.

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 laureate has been awarded.

Are regional winners recognised?

Since 2017, regional winners are selected from different geographical locations around the world.

The Laureate

How is the laureate honoured?

In 2020 the laureate was for the first time honoured with a virtual global ceremony. However, most years the winner is honoured at a dignified ceremony in Geneva in front of an audience from across the globe.

The laureate also receives USD 150,000 prize money which is used to further their work through a specific project designed with the support of UNHCR staff.

When will the laureate be announced?

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

Regional winners

Are other nominees recognised?

Yes. Four regional winners from each global region will be recognized for their humanitarian work in 2021.

The Ceremony

Where and when does the Ceremony take place?

UNHCR’s Nansen Refugee Award Ceremony was for the first time held virtually in 2020. However, when possible the official Ceremony, presided over by the High Commissioner for Refugees, is held annually in October in Geneva, Switzerland.

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