Laureates 2020

Prof. Michael Ignatieff is a vocal advocate of democracy as an historian, a reporter, a champion of human rights, and one of the first to warn against the rise of radical ethnic nationalism.

In particular, he is acknowledged for his leadership as the President and Rector of the Central European University, standing in the front lines against the campaign to stifle academic freedom, free expression and pluralism in the country.

As a philosopher, writer, broadcaster and political leader, Prof. Ignatieff’s activities have left their impact on his native Canada, the United States, the United Kingdom and Europe. His rich career addresses, on different levels, the challenges of democracy.

Because of his struggle for the continued independence and very existence of the Central European University, Prof. Ignatieff became identified with the ideas of an open society and a European Union which has been trying to transcend so much of its own 20th-century history. He has conducted this struggle with resilience, tact and moderation, with the understanding that he is fighting for the future of a liberal and democratic Europe. Ignatieff – combining the liberal traditions of Britain and North America with his deep knowledge of European history, is perfectly placed to be a symbol for the struggle for the soul of Europe and its values of liberalism and inclusiveness.

Among his many awards and honors, Royal Society of Literature Heinemann Prize (1987), Lionel Gelber Prize for Writing on Foreign Affairs (1993), University of British Columbia, Biography Prize (1998), The George Orwell Prize (2001), Otis Social Justice Award (2002), Chevalier of the Order of Academic Palms, Government of France (2003), The Hannah Arendt Prize for Political Writing, Germany (2003), Queen’s Jubilee Medal, Canada (2012), Member, Order of Canada (2016), and Zocalo Public Square Book Prize, LA, USA (2018). Honorary doctorates from University of Western Ontario, London (2001), McGill University, Montreal (2002),  University of Edinburgh, Scotland (2018) and the University of Maastricht, the Netherlands (2019).