Theodor Wanner Award

Award Winner 2016: Human Rights Watch

Refugee children peer in through the window at the International Medical Corps (IMC) facility in the Domiz Camp for Syrian Refugees near Dohuk, Iraq on Nov. 22, 2013; © Foto: Ed Kashi, 2013
A Syrian refugee, Muna, 16, makes a phone call outside her family tent located in the desert of Ereinbeh, Jordan on Nov. 14, 2013; © Foto: Ed Kashi, 2013
Reem, 13, with her siblings in her family tent at the Al Za’atri refugee camp for Syrians, near Mafraq, Jordan on Nov. 18, 2013. Reem is suffering from mental health issues. She has been living at the Za’atri camp since January 2013; © Foto: Ed Kashi
Children gather in an enclave of tents at the Al Za’atri refugee camp for Syrians near Mafraq, Jordan on Nov. 25, 2013; © Foto: Ed Kashi, 2013
A young girl enjoys a lollipop while watching shoppers in the Domiz Camp for Syrian Refugees in Dohuk, Iraq on Nov. 23, 2013; © Foto: Ed Kashi, 2013
A sugarcane worker, 29, suffering from Chronic Kidney Disease of non-traditional causes, CKDnT, poses for a portrait in Chichigalpa, Nicaragua on Jan. 7, 2015; © Foto: Ed Kashi, 2015
A former cane worker, 29, poses with his father, 58, in the cane fields of Chichigalpa, Nicaragua. Both men suffer from CKDu; © Foto: Ed Kashi, 2015
© Photos: Ed Kashi
A former cane worker, 67, in the fields that he worked in for 25 years, in Chichigalpa, on April 25, 2014. He is sick with CKDu and after he spoke out against one of the worker organizations, he has stopped receiving food provisions; © Foto: Ed Kashi, 20
A cane worker slices through the burnt stalks of sugar cane in a field in Chichigalpa, Nicaragua on May 1, 2014; © Foto: Ed Kashi, 2014

The award ceremony will take place in Berlin on 21 June 2016.

Human Rights Watch (HRW) defends human rights worldwide. Investigation, revelation, change – the independent non-governmental organization (NGO) discloses the violation of human rights and urges governments and other decision makers the stop illegimate practices and to respect international Human Rights. For more than 30 years the HRW works on establishing legal and moral principles for a sustainable change and on demanding justice and security for all people worldwide. The NGO based in New York is exclusively financed by donations by private persons and foundations. Since 1993, Kenneth Roth is the Executive Director. He will accept the prize in the name of the organization.

Laudatory speech: Dr Bärbel Kofler

Dr. Bärbel Kofler © SPD Parteivorstand / Susie Knoll / Florian Jaenicke

Dr Bärbel Kofler, born on 24 May 1967 in Freilassing, was trained as a bank clerk, studied linguistics and graduated in computer science. From 1999 to 2004 she worked as a foreign-language lecturer for the German Academic Exchange Service (DAAD) in Moscow and as a teacher in Germany. She has been a Member of the Bundestag since 2004 for the Social Democratic Party of Germany (SPD). In the 18th Electoral Term, Dr Bärbel Kofler is the Federal Government Commissioner for Human Rights Policy and Humanitarian Aid and a Deputy Member of the Committee on Foreign Affairs. She is Member of the German Bundestag (since 2004) and Federal Government Commissioner for Human Rights Policy and Humanitarian Aid (since March 2016).

The project

The prize money of 10,000 euros, sponsored by the Klett Group, is appropriated to a project chosen by Human Rights Watch: Global Coalition to Protect Education from Attack, chaired by Human Rights Watch. The Coalition advocates for schools to be kept free from military use, so children in conflict zones can learn in safety. One of the campaign's successes is the international Safe Schools Declaration, which was launched in 2015 and has been endorsed by 53 nations.

Sponsor: Klett Group

The earmarked prize money of 10,000 euros is sponsored by the Klett Group. The Stuttgart-based Klett Group is one of the leading educational companies in Europe with its 59 companies at 34 sites in 15 countries. The Group's portfolio encompasses everything from traditional textbooks to modern interactive learning aids; from professional literature to the classics.

Kenneth Roth

Kenneth Roth

Kenneth Roth is the executive director of Human Rights Watch, one of the world's leading international human rights organizations, which operates in more than 90 countries. Prior to joining Human Rights Watch in 1987, Roth served as a federal prosecutor in New York and for the Iran-Contra investigation in Washington, DC. A graduate of Yale Law School and Brown University, Roth has conducted numerous human rights investigations and missions around the world. He has written extensively on a wide range of human rights abuses, devoting special attention to issues of international justice, counterterrorism, the foreign policies of the major powers, and the work of the United Nations.

Zama Coursen-Neff

Zama Coursen-Neff © Human Rights Watch

Zama Coursen-Neff is the executive director of the children's rights division of Human Rights Watch. She leads the organization’s work on children’s rights and co-chairs the Global Coalition to Protect Education from Attack (GCPEA). Coursen-Neff also conducts fact-finding investigations and is the author of reports and articles on a range of issues affecting children, including access to education, police violence, refugee protection, the worst forms of child labor, and discrimination against women and girls. She has published on op-ed pages in major international and US publications and speaks regularly to the media. During a sabbatical in 2006/2007, she ran a protection monitoring team for the Norwegian Refugee Council in Sri Lanka. Before joining Human Rights Watch in 1999, Coursen-Neff clerked for a US federal judge, advocated on behalf of immigrants and refugees in the US, and worked with community development and women's organizations in Honduras. She is a graduate of Davidson College and New York University School of Law.

Former Award Winners

Since 2009, the Institut für Auslandsbeziehungen (ifa) has conferred the Theodor Wanner Award to those who significantly contribute or have contributed their scientific, social, socio-political, artistic, entrepreneurial or financial expertise to foster dialogue among cultures. The award was launched at the initiative of the Friends of the Institut für Auslandsbeziehungen. The patron of the Theodor Wanner Award is the Foreign Minister of Germany.

Theodor Wanner

Theodor Wanner (1875-1955) was a Stuttgart citizen, patron of the arts, patriarch and at the same time a busy manager. His name is synonymous with bourgeois, Swabian entrepreneurship. Motivated by his own experience abroad, he founded and established countless cultural initiatives, such as the Württembergische Gesellschaft zur Förderung der Wissenschaften (Association of Württemberg Patron of the Arts) and the Deutsches Ausland-Institut (German Foreign Institute, DAI), the predecessor to today's Institut für Auslandsbeziehungen (ifa). Theodor Wanner was the long-year chairman of the Handelsgeographischer Verein (Association of Trade Geography), which gave rise to the Staatliches Museum für Völkerkunde (State Museum of Ethnology), today the Linden Museum, in Stuttgart.
Theodor Wanner is an embodiment of lasting, personal commitment to cultural dialogue.


The Friends of ifa donate the prize money of 10,000 euros, which are appropriated to a project chosen by the winner. The award winners are honoured in a ceremony. The trophy was designed by Axel Kufus, professor for creation and development in design at the Berlin University of the Arts.


The award winners are selected by a majority vote of the jury, which includes among others the directors of the Friends of ifa and ifa itself. The jury is free to choose as it wishes.

Current jury members include:

  • Ursula Seiler-Albring, ifa President
  • Stephan Brübach, Chairman of the Friends of ifa
  • Bernt Graf zu Dohna, ifa Vice President and Member of the Friends of ifa
  • Otto Ruthenberg, Member of the ifa executive board and Daimler AG
  • Ronald Grätz, ifa Secretary General

Suggestions can be made by among others members of the Institut für Auslandsbeziehungen (ifa), members of Friends of the Institut für Auslandsbeziehungen, the advisory boards, and ifa employees.

"Where human rights are being trampled underfoot we must criticise and look for ways to resolve issues and help people. We must also support those who are brave enough to speak out against injustice in their countries and who demand involvement and participation. We have an absolute constitutional and ethical obligation to do so."
Foreign Minister Frank-Walter Steinmeier

Human Rights Watch: Einsatz für eine menschenwürde Welt. Vier Gespräche

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