Bianca Jagger receives Alternative Nobel Prize

Bianca Jagger has been awarded the 2004 Right Livelihood Award of £150,000 which she shares with Argentinian scientist Ra˙l Montenegro and a Russian organisation, Memorial. This year’s Awards highlight Human, Social, and Environmental Rights Worldwide. The Honorary Award goes to Swami Agnivesh, a leading Hindu social reformer, and Asghar Ali Engineer, a prominent Muslim scholar.

Bianca Jagger, from Nicaragua, has shown over many years how celebrity can be put at the service of the exploited and disadvantaged. The Jury recognizes ‘her long-standing commitment and dedicated campaigning over a wide range of issues of human rights, social justice and environmental protection, including the abolition of the death penalty, the prevention of child abuse, the rights of indigenous peoples to the environment that supports them and the prevention and healing of armed conflicts.’ The Jury also honours the Russian organisation, Memorial, its members and staff ‘for showing, under very difficult conditions, and with great personal courage, that history must be recorded and understood, and human rights respected everywhere, if sustainable solutions to the legacy of the past are to be achieved’. Memorial works in Russia and surrounding countries to document past human rights violations and protect civil liberties today. The organisation’s work is both unique and exemplary. The third recipient, Ra˙l Montenegro from Montegro, shows how much one committed scientist and activist can do to raise ecological awareness and prevent environmental degradation. The Jury honours Ra˙l Montenegro ‘for his outstanding and wide-ranging work with local communities and indigenous peoples to protect the environment and conserve natural resources in Latin America and elsewhere.’

The 2004 Right Livelihood Honorary Award goes to two distinguished Indian religious figures who have worked unceasingly for social justice and communal harmony for more than two decades. The Right Livelihood Award Jury honours Swami Agnivesh, a leading Hindu social reformer, and Asghar Ali Engineer, a prominent Muslim scholar and activist, ‘for their strong commitment and cooperation over many years to promote the values of co-existence, tolerance and understanding in India and between the countries of South Asia’.

Founded in 1980 the Right Livelihood awards are presented annually in the Swedish Parliament and are often referred to as ‘Alternative Nobel Prizes’. They were introduced ‘to honour and support those offering practical and exemplary answers to the most urgent challenges facing us today’. Jakob von Uexkull, a Swedish-German philatelic expert, sold his valuable postage stamps to provide the original endowment. Alfred Nobel wanted to honour those whose work ‘brought the greatest benefit to humanity’. Von Uexkull felt that the Nobel prizes today ignore much work and knowledge vital for our world and future.

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