Winner of $1m award for human fraternity to be announced in Abu Dhabi

Annual Zayed Award for Human Fraternity celebrates the spirit of peace and harmony

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Those who work for a more peaceful, tolerant and harmonious future will be recognised with the presentation of the $1 million Zayed Award for Human Fraternity.

The awards, issued annually, will be presented at a ceremony at the Founder's Memorial in Abu Dhabi within the next two weeks.

They are open to people from all walks of life and all backgrounds who have made extraordinary contributions to advancing humanity and promoting peaceful coexistence around the world.

What is the Zayed Award for Human Fraternity?

The award allocates $1m to an individual, individuals, a group or organisation that works to further peaceful coexistence anywhere in the world.

It was established on February 4, 2019, to mark the landmark meeting between Pope Francis and the Grand Imam of Al Azhar, Ahmed Al-Tayeb, in Abu Dhabi.

The award aims to shine a spotlight on their difficult and often unheralded work with the aim of inspiring others and creating a global community of those committed to bringing about a more just and harmonious world.

It was named after UAE Founding Father Sheikh Zayed to reflect his values and humanitarian legacy of helping people of all backgrounds regardless of religion, gender, race or nationality.

How are people nominated?

The award recognises individuals, organisations and other entities for their profound contributions to facilitating human fraternity.

Nominations are made annually and comprise people from around the world and all kinds of backgrounds.

They can be nominated by former winners, leaders, members of governments, parliaments, heads of state (former or present), university presidents, heads of research institutes or religious and cultural institutions, heads of international organisations or UN offices, and people well known for their humanitarian work.

Who decides on the winners?

A panel of judges, appointed by the Higher Committee for Human Fraternity, reviews the nominations and collectively agrees on a winner.

This year’s judges include the 1996 Nobel Peace Prize winner and former president of East Timor, José Ramos Horta, Phumzile Mlambo-Ngcuka, the former deputy president of South Africa and former United Nations Under-Secretary General and executive director of UN Women, and Mahamadou Issoufou, the former president of Niger.

They are joined by Cardinal Michael Czerny, the under-secretary responsible for the Migrants and Refugees Section at the Vatican’s department for Promoting Integral Human Development, Dr Leah Pisar, the chairwoman of Project Aladdin, which works to counter violent extremism, anti-Semitism, and anti-Muslim bigotry, and Judge Mohamed Abdelsalam, the Secretary General of the Higher Committee of Human Fraternity and former special adviser to the Grand Iman of Al Azhar.

Who were the previous winners?

The first winners of the award, in 2019, were Ahmed Al-Tayeb and Pope Francis. The two religious leaders were presented with the award after signing the Document on Human Fraternity in Abu Dhabi. The document calls for all people to put aside differences in pursuit of progress through understanding, reconciliation and peace.

To mark the signing of the Document, sometimes called the Abu Dhabi Agreement, the United Nations designated February 4 the International Day of Human Fraternity.

Mr Al-Tayeb donated his prize money to help pay for medical care for children fighting cancer in Egypt, while the Holy See donated his winnings to support Rohingya refugees fleeing persecution in Myanmar.

Last year's winners included UN Secretary General Antonio Guterres and Latifa Ibn Ziaten, a Moroccan-French activist against religious extremism and founder of the IMAD Association for youth and peace.

Ms Ibn Ziaten was recognised for dedicating her life to raising awareness about the dangers of extremism, after her 22-year-old son was murdered in a terrorist attack in 2012.

She previously told The National that her son, a French paratrooper, had been killed by Toulouse terrorist Mohamed Merah while trying to persuade him to put down his weapon.

After discovering Merah, who murdered seven people, was regarded as hero by some disaffected young French Muslims, she set up an association to counter extremism.

“All the help I bring to the young today is to see him growing in their eyes,” she said of her son, Imad.

“He died while on his feet so I need to see the youth on their feet. Everything I do, I see Imad growing through the association and I hope he is proud of me.”

She shared the award with the Mr Guterres for his work in furthering world peace and security. He donated his winnings to the UN Refugee Agency, the UNHCR.

When will the awards be presented?

The date for the ceremony in Abu Dhabi has yet to be announced but is expected within the next two weeks. Last year, the awards were presented on the International Day of Human Fraternity.

What is the Higher Committee for Human Fraternity?

The committee was formed after the Document on Human Fraternity was signed in Abu Dhabi in 2019. It is formed by a diverse set of international religious leaders, educational scholars and cultural leaders dedicated to enacting the message of understanding and peace relayed in the document.

Their work is aimed at acting on the aspirations of the document by meeting religious leaders and heads of international organisations and states to spread the values of mutual respect and tolerance.

The committee also provides counsel on a variety of initiatives, including the Abrahamic Family House currently under construction in Abu Dhabi.

Updated: February 23, 2022, 8:00 AM