International press freedom organisation Reporters Without Borders won the prestigious Dan David Prize for its work in defending democracy, together with Michael Ignatieff, President and Rector of the Central European University in Budapest.
The Dan David Prize annually awards three prizes of $1 million each to outstanding figures and organisations whose efforts have made outstanding humanistic, scientific and technological contributions and represent remarkable achievement in selected fields.
The total purse of US $3 million makes the Dan David Prize not only one of the most prestigious, but also one of the highest value prizes internationally. Previous Dan David Prize Laureates include Yo-Yo Ma (2006), Professor Robert Gallo, co-discoverer of the AIDS virus (2009), novelist Margaret Atwood (2010), filmmaker brothers Ethan and Joel Coen (2011), and Wikipedia founder Jimmy Wales (2015).
Reporters Without Borders, also known under its French name Reporters sans Frontières (RSF), has become a reference for journalists at risk worldwide since the organisation’s inception in 1985. RSF is the leading voice to defend freedom, independence and pluralism of journalism. It monitors government policies regarding the press and other media, and provides support for journalists and newspapers discriminated against and persecuted by the authorities.
RSF Secretary General Christophe Deloire, Secretary general of RSF, said: “ It is an honor for us and it will be so helpful to continue enhancing our project and find concrete solutions for a free, independent and pluralistic journalism. But this award is more than that. It reflects a growing awareness of the importance of journalism for the future of democracy worldwide. Regardless of the vision of democracy that we have, we need journalists to establish the facts”.
The Dan David Prize is named after the late Dan David, an international businessman and philanthropist whose vision is the driving force behind the international Dan David Prize. His aim was to reward those who have made a lasting impact on society and to help young students and entrepreneurs become the scholars and leaders of the future.
His son, Ariel David, said the liberal democratic order was facing a rising tide of new authoritarianism and populism.
“The very values that have sustained freedom and democracy are called into question. RSF and Michael Ignatieff are being recognised for their leadership in the daily struggle to protect freedom of the press and freedom of academia. These basic liberties are pillars of democracy and it is no coincidence that the media and universities are often the primary targets of the populist and authoritarian regimes that have risen to power,” David said.
Ignatieff has advocated for democracy around the world as a reporter, a champion of human rights, and as one of the first to warn against the rise of ethnic nationalism. In particular, he is acknowledged for his leadership as the President and Rector of the Central European University in Budapest, standing on the front line against attempts to stifle academic freedom, free expression and pluralism in the country.