The award was created in 2000 by the ICN Board of Directors to call attention to ICN’s values and to commemorate nursing’s fundamental dedication to human rights. The award aims at recognising significant humanitarian contributions and achievements in the domain of health and human rights. It is ICN’s only award given to someone who is not a nurse.
The inaugural recipient of the International Council of Nurses’ (ICN) Health and Human Rights Award in 2001 was Sadako Ogata, former United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR). Mrs Ogata’s work to safeguard the rights and well being of refugees epitomises the goals and values of ICN in the promotion of health and human rights. During her 10-year term as High Commissioner, she oversaw large-scale emergency operations in northern Iraq, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Kosovo, and the Great Lakes region of Africa. UNHCR became increasingly involved in assisting internally displaced people and other vulnerable civilians in conflict situations. Before her appointment as High Commissioner, Mrs Ogata was Dean of the Faculty of Foreign Studies at Sophia University, Tokyo. While in academia, she also held positions in the United Nations, chairing the UNICEF Executive Board in 1978–79, and serving on the UN Commission on Human Rights and as the Commission’s independent expert on the human rights situation in Burma (now Myanmar).
In 2005, Stephen Lewis was awarded the ICN Health and Human Rights Award. In his unrelenting mission as the United Nations’ Special Envoy for HIV/AIDS in Africa, Stephen Lewis has been the passionate advocate for the world’s most vulnerable, epitomising the goals and values of ICN and nursing in the promotion of health and human rights. The HIV/AIDS pandemic is ravaging Africa. Of the 40 million people worldwide estimated to be infected, 25 million are in sub-Saharan Africa, where 8,000 sufferers die each day. More than half the victims are women, who leave behind millions of orphans, many of them also HIV positive. Mr Lewis has brought special attention to the suffering and powerlessness of women and advocated relentlessly for women’s rights and gender equality.
The 2013 recipient of the health and Human Rights Award was Mary Robinson, UN Special Envoy for the Great Lakes region of Africa, former United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights, and founder and President of Realizing Rights: The Ethical Globalization Initiative. In her acceptance speech, Mary Robinson said, “I have a very high regard for the nursing profession and do not doubt your collective ability to meet those challenges whilst also ensuring that the dignity of the human being is guaranteed.”
The recipient of this award is a person who is not a nurse and yet who epitomises the goals and values of nursing in the promotion of health and human rights, has realised a truly significant contribution or achievement in health and human rights, and has significant public stature and profile internationally.
The ICN Board of Directors makes the selection for the Health and Human Rights Award. To assist the Board in this selection, ICN member associations contribute names of outstanding persons. The selection is made during the annual Board of Directors’ meeting in the year preceding the ICN Quadrennial Congress.
The award, a certificate and a financial grant to be made to the foundation, charity or cause of the recipient’s choice, will be presented during the Award ceremony to take place during ICN Quadrennial Congress.
The award recipient will be asked to deliver a speech for the nursing international audience.