North-South Centre - European Centre for Global Interdependence and Solidarity

The North South Prize of the Council of Europe


Every year since 1995, the North South Prize of the Council of Europe has been awarded to two personalities who have excelled in their commitment to the defense and promotion of Human Rights and pluralistic democracy, the development of intercultural dialogue and the reinforcement of the north-south partnership and solidarity.

The prize is awarded to one candidate from the north and one from the south after deliberation of the jury composed by members of the Bureau of the North South Centre and the Secretary General of the Council of Europe. It is presided over by the Chair of the North South Centre’s Executive Council and assisted in its work by the Secretariat of the North South Centre.

The North-South Prize is presented to the winners at an official ceremony in Lisbon at the beginning of the following year attended (on the part of the host country) by the President of the Republic, the Speaker of parliament and a member of the government and (on the part of the Council of Europe) the Secretary General, the President of the Parliamentary Assembly and the Chair of the Executive Committee of the North-South Centre.

The winners


      Louise Arbour was born on 10 February 1947 in Montreal, Quebec. Ms. Arbour, a Canadian national, began her academic career in 1974. In 1995, Ms. Arbour was appointed Commissioner to conduct an inquiry into the Prison for Women in Kingston, Ontario. In 1996, she was appointed by the Security Council of the United Nations as Chief Prosecutor for the International Criminal Tribunals for the former Yugoslavia and for Rwanda. In 1999, she was appointed to the Supreme Court of Canada.Ms. Arbour has received honorary doctorates from some thirty Universities and numerous medals and awards and is a member of many distinguished professional societies and organisations. Louise Arbour has served as President & CEO of the International Crisis Group since July 2009. Previously she acted as United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights from 2004 to 2008.

      Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva (born 27 October 1945), known commonly as Lula, was the 35th President of Brazil, elected in 2002 and re-elected in 2006 for a second term that ended on 1 January 2011. He started his political activism at 19 by getting involved in union activities and, after a very committed participation in labour movements, in 1980, together with a group of academics, intellectuals and union leaders, founded the Partido dos Trabalhadores (PT) or Workers’ Party. During his mandate as President, Brazil’s foreign policy became renowned for fostering “South-South” relations, the fight against poverty and the promotion of economic development and social equality around the globe.


The Award Ceremony took place on 18 May 2010 at the Portuguese Parliamentary Assembly, in presence of Mr Jaime Gama, President of Assembly of the Portuguese republic and the Prize will be presented by the Portuguese President of the Republic, Mr Aníbal Cavaco Silva to Ms Rola Dashti and to Ambassador Alekseev in representation of Mr Mikhail Gorbachev.
Rula Dashti is a leading activist in Kuwait and throughout the region advocating democratic reform, fighting for gender equality and increasing roles for women in public life. She has been involved in several volunteering activities since her undergraduate years, where she worked with the International Red Cross in Lebanon to assist refugee families from the south in 1982. She has also been involved in various activities for the economic empowerment of women in the Republic of Yemen. In the 2009 parliamentary elections, she and three other women won seats to become the first women to enter the Kuwaiti parliament.
Mikhail Sergeyevich Gorbachev is a Russian politician. He was the last General Secretary of the Communist Party of the Soviet Union, serving from 1985 until 1991, and also the last Head of State of the USSR, serving from 1988 until its collapse in 1991. Gorbachev's attempts at reform contributed to the end of the Cold War. In 1990, Gorbachev was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize for "his leading role in the peace process which today characterizes important parts of the international community".


On 16 March, the Award Ceremony of the 2008 North-south Prize took place, awarding Her Majesty Queen Rania of Jordan (Jordan) and Jorge Sampaio (Portugal).
Her Majesty Queen Rania channels her energies into initiatives that aim to improve the livelihood of Jordanians. As First Lady, Queen Rania's activities encompass issues of national concern, such as the environment, youth, human rights, women empowerment, among others.
Jorge Sampaio, former President of Portugal and High Representative of United Nations for the Alliance of Civilizations, has always been deeply involved in the pursuit of Peace throughout the world.


The jury decided to award the North-South Prize on 2007 in Mrs. Simone Veil (France), the life of which is a symbol of courage and Kofi Annan (Ghana), which was the seventh General Secretary of the United Nations and which received the Nobel Peace Prize in 2001, for their contribution to the defense and to the promotion of Human Rights worldwide.



The jury decided to award the 2006 North-South Prize to Mrs Mukhtaran Bibi (Pakistan), well known for her determination in promoting the women’s rights in Pakistan and Father Van der Hoff (The Netherlands), Founder of the Fair Trade Association Max Havelaar.


The winners of the 2005 North-South Prize were Mme Bogaletch Gebre (Ethiopia), Director of the Kembatta Women’s Self-Help Center, a non-governmental organization whose objectives are to fight against all concerned by women's rights and all other forms of abuse and M. Bob Geldof (Ireland), Musician and Producer, working on the African questions the last 20 years and member of the Commission for Africa. He is involved in the “Make Poverty History campaign”, which is a coalition calling for trade justice, debt cancellation and more, better, aid.


In 2004 the recipients of the North-South Prize were Nawal El Saadawi, Egyptian writer and psychiatrist, and Stéphane Hessel, Ambassador of France. As a result of her literary and scientific writings, Nawal El Saadawi has suffered countless hardships in her life and sometimes even received threats, which caused her to spend five years in exile. Stéphane Hessel is known for his courageous stand and his writing in favour of the disadvantaged and the defence of human rights. He was a member of the French government under Pierre Mendes France and occupied several positions in the UN. In 1996, he was a mediator in the conflict over undocumented immigrants in France.


In 2003, the jury honored parliamentarians by awarding the North-South Prize to Frene Ginwala, speaker of the South African Parliament and a militant in the antiapartheid movement, who lived in exile for many years and was the driving force behind the creation of the Pan-African Parliament, and to António de Almeida Santos, former speaker of the Portuguese Parliament (1995 to 2001), who had an outstanding career as a parliamentarian and leader of the Portuguese Socialist Party.


The jury decided to award the 2002 North-South Prize to Albina du Boisrouvray, founder and president of the François-Xavier Bagnoud Association, known for its action in the protection of orphans and AIDS victims on different continents, and to Xanana Gusmão, president of East Timor and leader of the Timorese resistance from 1979 to 1999, recognized as a fervent supporter of the rule of law, pluralistic democracy and respect for human rights.


Maria de Nazaré Gadelha Ferreira Fernandes

Cornelio Sommaruga

In 2001, the prize went to Maria de Nazaré Gadelha Ferreira Fernandes, lawyer for the Human Rights Defense Centre in the Rio Branco diocese, in the state of Acre (Brazil). Her testimony as to the existence of organised extermination and drug-trafficking groups in the state made her a target for serious threats. The prize was also awarded to Cornelio Sommaruga, PhD in law, former president of the International Red Cross Committee, ardent defender of the Ottawa Process and an expert on the issue of mines.


Marguerite Barankitse

Mário Soares

The winners of the 2000 North-South Prize was Marguerite Barankitse, for her organisation of children’s shelters in Burundi and Mário Soares, former president of Portugal. Ms Barankitse made her mark through her dedication to the cause of war children and of war orphans in particular. Mr. Soares is well-known for his fight against the dictatorship in his country.


Abderrahman Youssoufi et Emma Bonino

In 1999, European commissioner, Emma Bonino, was rewarded for her commitment to major human causes through her direct intervention in war-torn countries and with disadvantaged populations. The other prize went to Abderrahman Youssoufi, Prime Minister of Morocco and a passionate defender of human rights in Arab countries, in recognition of his sustained, unconditional work for the cause.


Graça Machel

Lloyd Axworthy

The 1998 prize was awarded to Graça Machel, chairperson of the National Organization of Children of Mozambique for her outstanding work with war children in her country and, at the same time, for her dedication to the cause of education. Lloyd Axworthy, Canadian Foreign Minister, received the prize for his notable work in the fight against antipersonnel mines all over the world.


Mary Robinson

Patricio Aylwin

Mary Robinson received the 1997 North-South Prize. Thanks to her sustained involvement in the field of human rights, the former president of Ireland was appointed United Nations Human Rights Commissioner. Patricio Aylwin, former president of Chile, passionately supported and defended the transition to democracy in his country. He was awarded the other prize in recognition of his work.


Danielle Mitterrand

Femmes algériennes

The 1996 North-South Prize went to Danielle Mitterrand, president of the France Libertés Foundation, for her position in favor of the human rights and, symbolically, to Algerian women, for their daily fight for freedom.


In 1995, one of the prizes went to Peter Gabriel, whose musical work contributed to the dissemination of music from different parts of the world. In 1992, he launched the Witness programme which provided logistical support to human rights militants worldwide. The other prize was awarded to Vera Duarte, the first woman to be elected to the African Commission on Human and People’s Rights.