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 Fridtjof Nansen, Norwegian explorer and humanitarian. 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 persons 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 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 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 Laureate?

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 Laureate and regional winners is completely confidential.

When is the deadline for nominations?

The nomination period for the 2022 edition of the UNHCR Nansen Refugee Award is now closed. 

How do I obtain a nomination form?

Nominations are closed.

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).

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 honoured with the Nansen Refugee Award annually?

As a general rule, one recipient is chosen each year. In exceptional circumstances, more than one winner has been awarded.

Are Regional Winners recognised?

Since 2017, four regional winners are selected each year from different geographical locations around the world. They receive a certificate and regional recognition for their work helping displaced people.

The Laureate

How is the Laureate honoured?

In 2020 and 2021, the laureate was honoured through a virtual global ceremony. However, most years the winner is honoured at a ceremony in Geneva in front of an audience from across the globe.

When will the Laureate be announced?

Each year the laureate is announced a few days ahead of the ceremony in October.

Regional winners

Are other nominees recognised?

Yes. Four regional winners from each global region outside of the laureate’s region will be recognized for their humanitarian work in 2022.

The Ceremony

Where and when does the ceremony take place?

The UNHCR’s Nansen Refugee Award Ceremony will be held in person for the first time since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic. The official ceremony is presided by the High Commissioner for Refugees in Geneva, Switzerland, on the first day of the UNHCR Executive Committee, at the start of October.

Can I attend the UNHCR Nansen Refugee Award ceremony?

Unfortunately, the event is not open to the general public. However, public broadcasts of the ceremony take place in tandem. Watch the Ceremony Livestream on 10 October at 19:45 CEST on YouTube.


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 Secretariat 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 do I obtain an interview with the appropriate person?

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

Is there a media package?

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

Contact us

Our address:
Nansen Committee Secretariat
United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR)
Case Postale 2500
CH-1211 Genève 2 Dépôt

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 program. Please contact the UNHCR Nansen Refugee Award Secretariat at [email protected] for further information.

Our current partners:

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