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Václav Havel Human Rights Prize

Three nominees for the Václav Havel Human Rights Prize:

Strasbourg, 26.08.2013 – Ales Bialiatski (Belarus), the Georgian Young Lawyers' Association (Georgia) and the Rights Defence Network (China), are the three candidates shortlisted in Prague today for the Václav Havel Human Rights Prize. The selection panel, comprising six independent figures and chaired by Jean-Claude Mignon, President of the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe (PACE), drew up its shortlist on the basis of 27 candidatures which fulfilled the criteria for the Prize.

“A reaction is needed when human rights are under threat, and this is what we do. But it is also necessary to encourage and place the spotlight on those who commit themselves to human rights, and this is something we perhaps do a little less. This is what the Prize does,” said Jean-Claude Mignon when he announced the outcome of the voting.

The jury first made a shortlist of six candidates out of the 27 received as follows (in alphabetical order):

The jury chose the three nominees from these six candidates.

On 29 September, at a second meeting which will be held in Strasbourg, the panel will name the winner of the Prize. This will be officially announced by the PACE President at 12.30 pm on the first day of the autumn session, on 30 September 2013.

The Václav Havel Human Rights Prize, which aims to reward outstanding civil society action in the defence of human rights in Europe and beyond, is awarded each year by the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe, in partnership with the Václav Havel Library and the Charta 77 Foundation and is worth €60 000.

PACE contact: Markus Adelsbach, tel. +33 6 30 49 67 79
Václav Havel Library contact: Marta Smolíková, tel. +420 603 897 582

The Prize

The Václav Havel Human Rights Prize is awarded each year by the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe (PACE) in partnership with the Václav Havel Library and the Charta 77 Foundation to reward outstanding civil society action in the defence of human rights in Europe and beyond.

The Prize is awarded in memory of Václav Havel, playwright, opponent of totalitarianism, architect of the Velvet Revolution of 1989, President of Czechoslovakia and the Czech Republic and an enduring symbol of opposition to despotism. Nominations of any individual, non-governmental organisation or institution working to defend human rights are taken into consideration. The Prize consists of a sum of €60 000, a trophy and a diploma.

On 25 March 2013, the Václav Havel Human Rights Prize was launched at a ceremony in Prague with the signature of the Co-operation Agreement by the President of the Assembly, Jean-Claude Mignon, the Director of the Václav Havel Library, Marta Smolíková, and the Chair of the Steering Committee of the Charta 77 Foundation, František Janouch, in the presence of Czech Foreign Minister Karel Schwarzenberg.

The Václav Havel Human Rights Prize replaces the Council of Europe Parliamentary Assembly Human Rights Prize, which was created in 2007 and awarded every two years, first in 2009 to "British Irish Human Rights Watch" and then, in 2011, to the Russian NGO “Committee against Torture”.

'Without dreaming of a better Europe we shall never build a better Europe'

Václav Havel, addressing the Parliamentary Assembly. Strasbourg, May 1990

Who can be nominated?

Individuals or non-governmental institutions active in the defence of human rights can be nominated for the Prize.

Submission of nominations

Nominations for the Prize should be addressed to the Secretary General of the Parliamentary Assembly and be signed by at least five sponsors, other than the nominee, on the special form to be found at the Václav Havel Human Rights Prize website. Nominations shall provide details of the nominee’s work in the defence of human rights and specify the reasons why the nominee’s work can be considered to be outstanding. Relevant supporting documents should be provided. Nominations should be submitted in either of the two official languages of the Council of Europe, English or French.

The Selection Panel

The Selection Panel of the Prize is composed of the President of the Assembly (or a person designated by him/her) and six independent persons (who cannot be current members of the Assembly) with recognised moral standing in the field of human rights. The Panel will examine the nominations, submit a shortlist of three nominees to the Bureau of the Parliamentary Assembly for information and, subsequently, designate the Prizewinner for the year in question. Three Panel members are appointed by the Bureau of the Parliamentary Assembly and three Panel members by the Václav Havel Library and the Charta 77 Foundation. The six independent experts are appointed for a two-year period, renewable twice. The Panel is chaired by the President of the Assembly or the person designated by him/her.

The Award Ceremony

The Prize will be awarded at a ceremony which shall take place in Strasbourg on the Monday of the Autumn Session of the Parliamentary Assembly, usually in late September or early October. The name of the Prizewinner is announced by the President of the Parliamentary Assembly. The former Czech First Lady, Dagmar Havlova, is invited to honour the ceremony with her presence.

Conference in honour of the Prizewinner

The Václav Havel Library will organise, at a later date, an international conference in Prague in honour of the Prizewinner.

Timetable for 2013:

Further information: