Every two years, the Human Rights Office of the City of Nuremberg awards an international prize to a human rights defender or a group of individuals who through their work have “in an exemplary manner, committed themselves to human rights, sometimes at considerable personal risk”.
Each laureate is chosen by a jury consisting of a mixed group of human rights experts. RWI Director Morten Kjaerum, who has extensive knowledge in various human rights topics, will be joining this jury. Together with the other jury members he will choose the next awardee, who will be announced in February 2021.
The importance of human rights awards
According to Kjaerum, human rights awards like the Nuremberg International Human Rights Award do not only have a symbolic value. They create visibility around the human rights themes that the award winners work with and also support the winners on a personal level:
“Human rights prizes like the Nuremberg International Human Rights Award are very important in the sense that they recognize the work that people do with a strong commitment, often under great pressure and great danger. They also offer the award winners a certain level of protection. The attention and international awareness that follows the announcement of the award winner often makes perpetrators of human rights violations scared and think twice before they commit abuses against the award winner.”
Celebrating the laureates
The winners of the award are celebrated with a ceremony in the Nuremberg Opera House and with a Peace Table – an open air picnic, with around 5 000 participants. Everyone is invited – local schools, civil society organizations and others who want to celebrate the laureates.
What is special about the Nuremberg Award, compared to many other human rights awards, is that in addition to the festivities and a monetary award, the laureates also receive practical support from the Nuremberg Human Rights Office. According to Martina Mittenhuber, Head of the Human Rights Office of the City of Nuremberg, the Human Rights Office has, amongst other things, collected funds to the laureates and initiated campaigns to assist the laureates in their human rights work.
Kjaerum says that he looks forward to being on the jury and learning from the laureates to make RWI’s work more effective and impactful as well.