Past Recipients

2016 Naomi Klein

Award-winning author, journalist, and activist

The Sydney Peace Prize citation reads:
"Naomi Klein: For exposing the structural causes and responsibility for the climate crisis, for inspiring us to stand up locally, nationally and internationally to demand a new agenda for sharing the planet that respects human rights and equality, and for reminding us of the power of authentic democracy to achieve transformative change and justice."

With publications including No Logo and The Shock Doctrine Naomi Klein dissects the systemic and fundamental challenges of our time. Throughout her career she has joined the dots between politics, economy and history, distilling powerful truths that are universally applicable, which once understood cannot be unheard or unseen. Turning to climate change in the book, film and worldwide campaign This Changes Everything, “Naomi Klein applies her fine, fierce and meticulous mind to the greatest, most urgent question of our time”, so writes 2004 Sydney Peace Prize recipient Arundhati Roy. She is not afraid to ask the tough questions and sklilfully articulates how today’s economic system preserves devastating forms of structural violence.

2015 George Gittoes AM

Humanist artist and filmmaker

The Sydney Peace Prize citation reads:
George Gittoes AM: "For exposing injustice for over 45 years as a humanist artist, activist and filmmaker, for his courage to witness and confront violence in the war zones of the world, for enlisting the arts to subdue aggression and for enlivening the creative spirit to promote tolerance, respect and peace with justice."

Gittoes’ activism evolved through his work as a painter, film maker and photojournalist. He has chronicled conflicts and social upheavals in places including Nicaragua, Somalia, Cambodia, Western Sahara, Northern Ireland, Bosnia, Bougainville, East Timor, South Africa, Palestine, Iraq and Pakistan.

2014 Julian Burnside AO QC

Barrister, human rights advocate and author

The Sydney Peace Prize citation reads:
"For his brave and principled advocacy for human rights and for those wronged by government, for insisting that we respect our international legal obligations toward those seeking asylum, and for his unflinching defence of the rule of law as a means to achieve a more peaceful and just society.”

2013 Dr Cynthia Maung

Courtesy of Brendan Esposito and Fairfax

Humanitarian doctor and founder of the Mae Tao Clinic

The Sydney Peace Prize Jury’s citation reads:
“Dr Cynthia Maung: for her dedication to multi-ethnic democracy, human rights and the dignity of the poor and dispossessed, and for establishing health services for victims of conflict.”

Dr Maung, ethnic Karen, fled her native Burma during the pro-democracy uprising of 1988 and set up the Mae Tao Clinic on the Thai-Burmese border, where each year 700 staff treat over 150,000 people including refugees, migrant workers and orphans. Dr Maung has advanced the cause of peace in the AsiaPacific region and upheld the best humanitarian and ethical traditions of the medical profession.

2012 Senator Sekai Holland

Sekai Holland

Co Minister for Reconciliation Healing and Integration in Zimbabwe

The Sydney Peace Prize jury’s citation reads:
"Sekai Holland: for a lifetime of outstanding courage in campaigning for human rights and democracy, for challenging violence in all its forms and for giving such astute and brave leadership for the empowerment of women."

In addition to her work for the education of rural women and her founding of Australia’s anti Apartheid movement fifty years ago, Sekai Holland has been a significant leader of non violent, democracy campaigns, and is a key figure in her country’s national dialogue on how to heal the deep wounds of social conflict.

2011 Professor Noam Chomsky

Noam at Town Hall

American linguist, social scientist and human rights campaigner

Distinguished American linguist, social scientist and human rights campaigner Professor Noam Chomsky is the 2011 recipient of the Sydney Peace Prize. Professor Noam Chomsky is often described as one of the West’s most influential intellectuals in the cause of peace, and the most significant challenger of unjust power and as an individual who is not only brilliant but heroic.

The Jury’s citation for the award to Professor Chomsky reads:
"For inspiring the convictions of millions about a common humanity and for unfailing moral courage. For critical analysis of democracy and power, for challenging secrecy, censorship and violence and for creating hope through scholarship and activism to promote the attainment of universal human rights."

The award to Noam Chomsky comes at a time of violence and protest around the world. Across the Middle East brave people challenge authoritarian rule, yearn for human rights and for a state of their own. Yet instead of deliberating on how we might also foster dialogue about justice, Australia is producing an ugly state of politics. Those who express the needs of the planet and of vulnerable people are demonized by radio commentators, demeaned by powerful leaders, and even threatened in the streets.

In contrast to those developments, our choice of Noam Chomsky produces a great opportunity to promote inspiring conversations about peace with justice. At the 2011 Sydney Peace Prize events you can learn more about Noam Chomsky’s life and work. You can encourage education about that most precious goal: the enjoyment of freedoms through struggles for peace with justice, in the home, on the streets and in every facet of social and foreign policies.

2010 Dr Vandana Shiva

Dr Vandana Shiva

Indian physicist, philosopher, environmental activist and ecofeminist

As well as being a physicist, philosopher, environmental activist and eco feminist, Dr Vandana Shiva is a celebrated author. The Sydney Peace Prize Citation read "Recognised for her courageous leadership of movements for social justice – the empowerment of women in developing countries, advocacy of the human rights of small farming communities and for her scientific analysis of environmental sustainability."

Dr Shiva trained as a physicist and did her Ph.D on the subject “Hidden Variables and Non-locality in Quantum Theory” at the University of Western Ontario. She later shifted to inter-disciplinary research in science, technology and environmental policy, which she carried out at the Indian Institute of Science and the Indian Institute of Management in Bangalore.

In 1982, she founded an independent institute, the Research Foundation for Science, Technology and Ecology, dedicated to high quality and independent research to address the most significant ecological and social issues of our times, in close partnership with local communities and social movements.

In 1991, she founded Navdanya, a national movement to protect the diversity and integrity of living resources, especially native seeds. It places the farmer at the center of conservation and empowers her/him to take control over the political, ecological and economic aspects of agriculture.

Dr. Shiva has contributed in fundamental ways to changing agriculture and food. Her books, “The Violence of Green Revolution” and “Monocultures of the Mind” have become basic challenges to the dominant paradigm of non-sustainable, reductionist Green Revolution agriculture. Intellectual property rights (IPRs) and biodiversity are other areas where Dr. Shiva has contributed intellectually and through campaigns. The Neem Campaign and Basmati Campaign are examples of her leadership in IPR and biopiracy issues.

Besides her activism, she also serves on expert groups of government on IPR legislation. Biotechnology and genetic engineering are another dimension of Dr. Shiva’s campaigning internationally. She has helped movements in Africa, Asia, Latin America, Ireland, Switzerland and Austria with their campaigns against genetic engineering.

Dr Shiva’s campaigns aimed at protecting biodiversity have insisted on stricter standards of bio ethics and have challenged so called advances in biotechnology and genetic engineering. She is regarded as a supporter of farming practices which enable small communities to be self sufficient and in this respect has been one of the significant leaders of the anti globalization movement.

Dr. Shiva’s contributions to gender issues are nationally and internationally recognised. Her book, “Staying Alive” dramatically shifted perceptions of Third World women. In 1990 she wrote a report for the FAO on Women and Agriculture entitled, “Most Farmers in India are Women”. She founded the gender unit at the International Centre for Mountain Development (ICIMOD) in Kathmandu. Dr Shiva suggests that a more sustainable and productive approach to agriculture can be achieved through reinstating a system of farming in India that is centered around engaging women. She advocates against the prevalent "patriarchal logic of exclusion," claiming that a woman-focused system would change the current system in an extremely positive manner. In 1998 she initiated an international movement of women working on food, agriculture, patents and biotechnology called, Diverse Women for Diversity.

Shiva has also served as an adviser to governments in India and abroad as well as non-governmental organisations, including the International Forum on Globalisation, the Women's Environment & Development Organization and the Third World Network.

In 1993, Dr Shiva received the Right Livelihood Award (also known as the Alternative Nobel Prize) for “placing women and ecology at the heart of modern development discourse." Other awards she has received include the Global 500 Award of the United Nations Environment Program (UNEP) in 1993, and the Earth Day International Award of the United Nations (UN) for her dedicated commitment to the preservation of the planet as demonstrated by her actions, leadership and by setting an example for the rest of the world. She has received additional awards from the Netherlands, India, Denmark, Spain, Thailand, Italy and Austria.

2009 John Pilger

John Pilger

World renowned journalist, author and film-maker

John Pilger was awarded the Sydney Peace Prize “for work as an author, film-maker and journalist as well as for courage as a foreign and war correspondent in enabling the voices of the powerless to be heard. For commitment to peace with justice by exposing and holding governments to account for human rights abuses and for fearless challenges to censorship in any form.” (Jury Citation)

Sydney Peace Foundation Director Professor Stuart Rees noted that “the jury was impressed by John’s courage as well as by his skills and creativity. His commitment to uncovering human rights abuses shines through his numerous books, films and articles. His work inspires all those who value peace with justice.”

Speaking from London about news of this award, John Pilger responded: "Coming from my homeland and the city where I was born and grew up, this is an honour I shall cherish, with the hope that it encourages young Australian journalists, writers and film-makers to break the silences that perpetuate injustice both far away and close to home."

Examples of his work include an account of the British and American governments’ secret ‘mass kidnappings’ of a whole population of the Chagos Islands in the Indian ocean to make way for an American military base. His 1979 film Year Zero: the Silent Death of Cambodia depicted the horrors of the Pol Pot regime and the plight of the Khmer people. In 1994, Death of a Nation, shot under cover in East Timor, galvanized world wide support for the East Timorese people. His re-making of the film Palestine is Still the Issue reminds the world of a continuing occupation and cruel injustice.

2008 Patrick Dodson

Patrick Dodson

Chairman, Lingiari Foundation

Mr Patrick Dodson was awarded the 2008 Sydney Peace Prize for his "courageous advocacy of the human rights of Indigenous people, for distinguished leadership of the reconciliation movement and for a lifetime of commitment to peace with justice, through dialogue and many other expressions on non violence."

Chair of the Sydney Peace Foundation Alan Cameron said, “It is significant that the Peace Prize jury’s choice of Patrick Dodson can build on the momentum for justice and reconciliation for Indigenous people which was given such a boost by Sorry Day on February 13th.”

Peace Foundation Director Professor Stuart Rees stated “The jury was impressed with Patrick’s work for reconciliation internationally – in Northern Ireland and in South Africa – as well as by his creative leadership of the Lingiari Foundation and as inaugural chair of the Council for Aboriginal Reconciliation. In the history of this Peace Prize, Patrick is only the second Australian recipient. In 2001, former Governor General Sir William Deane was recognized for his work with Aboriginal Australians and on that occasion he was presented with the Prize by the Reconciliation chair, Patrick Dodson.”

Commenting on news of this year’s choice of the Sydney Peace Prize, the Director of the Edmund Rice Centre, Phil Glendenning, said “This is a wonderful choice. Patrick is a great communicator, a significant leader, the nearest Australia has to a Nelson Mandela.”

Speaking from Broome, Mr. Dodson responded, “I would be very honoured to receive the Sydney Peace Prize. I thank the jury for considering me and my work worthy of such recognition.”

View ABC TV's coverage of the acceptance speech [ here

2007 Hans Blix

Hans Blix

Swedish diplomat, international human rights lawyer, weapons inspector and disarmament campaigner

The citation for the award reads: "Hans Blix, for principled and courageous opposition to proponents of war in Iraq, for life long advocacy of humanitarian law and non violence and for leadership of disarmament programs to rid the world of weapons of terror."

Alan Cameron, Chair of the Sydney Peace Foundation, said, "It is highly relevant that in this 10 th anniversary year of the Sydney Peace Prize, the jury focussed on universal disarmament as a major peace issue and chose one of the most significant campaigner against the manufacture and possession of arms of all kinds."

When notified of the news, Dr. Blix responded from Stockholm: ‘It is with surprise, gratitude and pride that I received notice of my selection as the recipient of the 2007 Sydney Peace Prize. While I am at present deeply engaged in urging a revival of disarmament in line with the recommendations of the Weapons of Mass Destruction Commission (WMD) that I chaired, I am particularly happy that the jury also referred to my work on principles of humanitarian law… It will be a great pleasure to come to Sydney to receive the award, to give the City of Sydney Peace Prize Lecture; and to speak with school and university students and representatives of the media.’

Director of the Sydney Peace Foundation, Professor Emeritus Stuart Rees, said that the choice of Dr. Blix ‘signals a need for an Australian Government to revive the work of the 1996 Canberra Commission on the Elimination of Nuclear Weapons although, as chair of the WMD Commission, Hans Blix’s interpretation of disarmament ranges from small guns to biological, chemical and nuclear weapons.’ Rees added: ‘It was impressive that other members of the Commission praised Hans Blix for his personal diplomacy and unique skills as chairman. These qualities enabled the Commission to reach a successful outcome.’

2006 Irene Khan

Irene Khan

Secretary General of Amnesty International

The Jury's citation recognised Irene Khan’s "leadership as a courageous advocate of universal respect for human rights, and her skills in identifying violence against women as a massive injustice and therefore a priority in campaigning for peace”.

Director of the Sydney Peace Foundation, Emeritus Professor Stuart Rees, said “The peace prize jury recognised the significance of Ms Khan’s efforts to eliminate violence towards women, whether that violence was caused by poverty, by men’s abusive power, by cultural norms or religious traditions. We are also impressed by her diversity – someone who was brought up as a Muslim in Bangladesh, who has married into another culture, who was educated in three different countries and has served the United Nations High Commission for Refugees for over 20 years before becoming Secretary General of Amnesty International”.

“I am deeply honoured to receive the Sydney Peace Prize” said Irene Khan from Amnesty International’s London headquarters. “Through this award, the Sydney Peace Foundation recognizes that there can be no peace without justice and respect for human rights. I passionately believe in the power of human rights as a set of global values to bring our fractured and divided world together. Around the world human rights activists are giving hope to millions of people - women, indigenous people, the poor and the marginalised - in their struggle for equality and dignity. This award is for them. In their name I accept this award with humility and with gratitude”.

2005 Olara Otunnu

Olara Otunnu

United Nations Under Secretary General for Children and Armed Conflict

The Sydney Peace Prize jury’s citation refers to Mr Otunnu’s ‘lifetime commitment to human rights, his ceaseless efforts to protect children in time of war and his promotion of measures for the healing and social reintegration of children in the aftermath of conflict’.

Alan Cameron, Chair of the Sydney Peace Foundation, said, ‘The Sydney Peace Prize jury recognized Mr Otunnu’s highly significant international work for the protection of children. We are enthusiastic about his acceptance of this prestigious award.’

Speaking from New York, Mr Otunnu commented, ‘I am very honoured to receive a Peace Prize which has been previously awarded to eminent advocates of peace and human rights. This award also recognizes the efforts of the United Nations to outlaw and end the use and brutalisation of children in situations of armed conflict. I look forward to highlighting these issues when I come to Sydney. I am very grateful for your recognition of our work.’

In the 1970’s as president of the Students’ Union in Makere University and as Secretary-General of Uganda Freedom Union, Mr. Otunnu played a leading role in the resistance against the regime of Idi Amin. After the overthrow of that regime he was Uganda’s permanent representative to the UN and in the mid 1980’s was his country’s Foreign Minister. From 1990 until 1998 he was President of the International Peace Academy. He has taught at Albany Law School, and the American University in Paris; he also practised law at the firm of Chadbourne & Parke in New York. Mr. Otonnu was educated at Budo, Makere University, Oxford University, and Harvard University where he was a Fulbright scholar. In 1997 following Graca Machel’s landmark study of the impact of war on children, the UN Secretary-General Kofi Annan appointed Mr Otunnu as his special envoy for the protection of children exposed to armed conflict.

Commenting on the Sydney Peace Prize jury’s choice of Mr Otunnu, the Director of the Sydney Peace Foundation, Professor Stuart Rees, said that the jury had been impressed by Mr Otunnu’s passionate commitment, advocacy and initiatives to protect the most innocent and most vulnerable members of a community, children. Mr. Otunnu has been instrumental in placing the protection of war-affected children on the international peace and security agendas, developing the practice of naming and listing of parties to conflict which brutalize children, developing a mechanism to monitor and report on compliance and violations of child soldiers.

He has traveled the world negotiating to end the use of child soldiers and other violations against children. Nevertheless, his recent report ‘Children and Armed Conflict’ acknowledges that there is continued targeting and brutalisation of children in situations of armed conflict, including their killing, maiming, use as child soldiers, rape and abduction. The report refers to a 'human made catastrophe of tsunami proportions.’ Mr. Otunnu stated, 'Those who destroy the children are destroying the future of our societies. We must stop this process of self destruction.'

Mr. Otunnu is active in many civic initiatives and organizations. He currently serves on the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace, the Aspen Institute, Carnegie Corporation of New York, the International Selection Commission of the Philadelphia Liberty Medal, Aspen France and the jury for the Hilton Humanitarian Prize

The 2005 Sydney Peace Prize was presented to Olara Otunnu by Her Excellency Professor Marie Bashir AC, the Governor of New South Wales at the Great Hall, University of Sydney, on Thursday 10 November .

2004 Arundhati Roy

Arundhati Roy

Author and human rights campaigner

On 4 November 2004, Her Excellency Professor Marie Bashir AC, the Governor of New South Wales, presented the 2004 Sydney Peace Prize to Arundhati Roy. The Award Ceremony was held at McLaurin Hall at the University of Sydney.

The jury's citation read, "Arundhati Roy has been recognized for her courage in campaigns for human rights and for her advocacy of non violence, as expressed in her demands for justice for the poor, for the victims of communal violence, for the millions displaced by the Narmada dam projects and by her opposition to nuclear weapons".

From New Delhi, Ms Roy commented, 'I am honoured to accept the prize'. On nonviolence as a criterion for the award, Arundhati Roy says 'Today, in a world convulsed by violence and unbelievable brutality the lines between 'us' and 'the terrorists' have been completely blurred… We don't have to choose between Imperialism and Terrorism, we have to choose what form of resistance will rid us of both. What shall we choose? Violence or nonviolence?… We have to choose knowing that when we are violent to our enemies, we do violence to ourselves. When we brutalize others, we brutalize ourselves. And eventually we run the risk of becoming our oppressors'.

Commenting on the selection of Ms Roy, the Director of the Peace Foundation Professor Stuart Rees said, ‘Arundhati Roy is a distinguished world citizen. She was chosen for her opposition to the violence of poverty in India and for her commitment to the global cause of peace with justice. As a writer she challenges the world. She is an outstanding communicator who writes with great clarity and grace. She insists that ‘silence is indefensible’, that 'Peace is not the opposite of war. Peace is the sibling of justice’. At a time of terrible disregard for human life, we need to hear from citizens like Arundhati Roy. Her presence in Sydney will be exciting and encouraging.’

Ms Roy is perhaps best known for her Booker Prize-winning novel, The God of Small Things.

2003 Dr Hanan Ashrawi

Hanan Ashrawi

Founder and Secretary General of the Palestinian Initiative for the Promotion of Global Dialogue and Democracy (MIFTAH)

The Sydney Peace Prize was presented to Dr Hanan Ashrawi by NSW Premier Bob Carr at NSW Parliament House.

She was awarded the Prize for her commitment to human rights, to the peace process in the Middle East and for her courage in speaking against oppression, against corruption and for justice.

2002 Mary Robinson

Mary Robinson

UN High Commissioner for Human Rights, former President of Ireland

The 2002 Sydney Peace Prize was presented to Mary Robinson at NSW Parliament House by Rt Hon Sir Ninian Stephen.

She was awarded the Prize for her leadership in advocating respect for human rights and for her courage in standing up for the powerless against the interests of powerful individuals and governments.

2001 Sir William Deane AC KBE

Sir William Deane

Former Governor General of Australia

Sir William Deane was awarded the Sydney Peace Prize for his consistent support of vulnerable and disadvantaged Australians and his strong commitment to the cause of reconciliation.

He was awarded the Sydney Peace Prize for 2001 at the Great Hall, University of Sydney, by Patrick Dodson.

2000 Xanana Gusmão

Xanana Gusmao

East Timorese leader, later elected President of East Timor

Courageous and principled leader for the independence of the East Timorese people.

The 2000 Sydney Peace Prize was presented to Xanana Gusmão at the Great Hall, University of Sydney by Rt Hon Sir Ninian Stephen.

1999 Archbishop Desmond Tutu

Archbishop Desmond Tutu

Chairman, South Africa's Truth and Reconciliation Commission

Nobel Prize winner, leader of anti-apartheid movement against racial oppression, tireless campaigner for reconciliation through tolerance and forgiveness.

The 1999 Sydney Peace Prize was presented to Archbishop Desmond Tutu at the Great Hall, University of Sydney, by Sir William Deane AC KBE.

1998 Professor Muhammed Yunus

Professor Muhammad Yunus

Founder, Grameen Bank of Bangladesh

Innovator in work for the world's poor, inspiring advocate of the view that peace is freedom from poverty.

The 1998 Sydney Peace Prize was presented to Professor Muhammad Yunus at the Great Hall, University of Sydney, by His Excellency the Governor General of Australia, Sir William Deane AC KBE.

A few years later, Professor Yunus went on to win the 2006 Nobel Peace Prize