About the ifa Award

With the ifa Award for the Dialogue of Cultures, ifa – Institut für Auslandsbeziehungen recognises the contribution of individuals and institutions to fostering transcultural relations through their social, socio-political or artistic work.

Supporting the freedom of the arts, civil society and science are key elements of ifa's mission. Today, these freedoms are increasingly under threat, with nationalism, populism and authoritarian tendencies just some of the challenges they face, even in democracies. Since 2009, the ifa Award has sent out a clear signal in support of human rights, democracy, peace, and freedom for artists, scientists and civil society actors. These values are also an integral part of the statutes of ifa.

The winners donate the 10,000-euro prize money to a cultural, charitable and peace-building project or organisation of their choice. The ifa Award was initiated by the ifa Friends' Association.

Until 2019, the award was named after Theodor Wanner (1875-1955), who initiated the establishment of the Deutsches Ausland-Institut (DAI), today's ifa, in 1917 (History of ifa).


ifa Award 2022: Osman Kavala

[Translate to english:] Preisträger des ifa-Preises für den Dialog der Kulturen 2022: Osman Kavala © picture alliance / AP Photo (uncredited), 2015
Osman Kavala, laureate of the ifa Award 2022 © 2015, picture alliance/AP Photo | Uncredited

Human rights activist, cultural patron and businessman Osman Kavala, who has been sentenced to life imprisonment in Turkey, will be presented with this year's ifa Award for the Dialogue of Cultures.

The award will be presented at a ceremony at the Allianz Forum in Berlin on 10 November 2022. Dr Wolfgang Schäuble, Member of the German Bundestag and former President of the Bundestag, will deliver the laudatory speech.

Osman Kavala emerged as a leading player in Turkish civil society during the 1990s. In 2002, he co-founded the Anadolu Kültür Foundation, which brings together the arts, business, and civil society to support local initiatives, highlight cultural diversity, and strengthen international collaboration.

From the statement of the award jury:

The ifa Award jury firmly endorses its choice of Osman Kavala as the 2022 laureate. All over the world, human and civil rights are under threat and their defenders persecuted. In this situation, we find the courage and resistance displayed by Osman Kavala to be absolutely exemplary.

Kavala has been imprisoned in Turkey since October 2017. The Turkish authorities accuse him of espionage and complicity in the military coup that failed to topple the government of July 2016. He is also accused of involvement in the riots that broke out during the protests against the planned demolition of Gezi Park in 2013. The European Court of Human Rights called for his release in December 2019. However, in April 2022 the Istanbul court sentenced Kavala to life imprisonment in solitary confinement without the possibility of parole. The judgment is not yet final.

Organisations such as Amnesty International Germany, Reporters without Borders, the PEN Centre Germany, the Academy of Arts or the KulturForum TürkeiDeutschland have been campaigning for his dismissal for years. In Turkey itself, ten ambassadors from Germany, the USA, Canada, New Zealand as well as Denmark, France, the Netherlands and the three Scandinavian countries Sweden, Finland and Norway demanded Kavala's dismissal last autumn.

Press Release

For more information on the ifa Award ceremony 2022 read the latest press release (14.09.2022).

Previous Winners of the ifa Award

  • 2021: Igor Levit
    • Laureate: Igor Levit, pianist and university professor
    • Laudatory speech: Claudia Roth, Minister of State for Culture and Media and former Vice President of the German Bundestag
    • Recipient of the prize money: HateAid, counseling center for victims of digital violence


  • 2019: Federica Mogherini
    • Laureate: Federica Mogherini, former High Representative of the European Union for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy.
    • Laudatory speech: Heiko Maas, former Federal Minister of Foreign Affairs
    • Recipient of the prize money: Rondine Cittadella della Pace


  • 2017: Silvia von Schweden
    • Laureate: Silvia, Queen of Sweden
    • Laudatory speech: Sigmar Gabriel, former Federal Minister of Foreign Affairs
    • Recipient of the prize money: Sociedade Beneficente Alemã




  • 2016: Human Rights Watch
    • Laureate: Human Rights Watch, independent non-governmental organization
    • Laudatory speech: Dr. Bärbel Kofler, former Federal Government Commissioner for Human Rights Policy and Humanitarian Aid
    • Recipient of the prize money: Global Coalition to Protect Education from Attack




  • 2014: Ernesto Cardenal
    • Laureate: Ernesto Cardenal, politician and theologian
    • Laudatory speech: Prof. Dr. Norbert Lammert, former President of the German Bundestag
    • Recipient of the prize money: Pan y Arte / Solentiname


  • 2013: Yoko Ono
    • Laureate: Yoko Ono, artist
    • Laudatory speech: Dr. Guido Westerwelle, former Federal Minister of Foreign Affairs
    • Recipient of the prize money: PAWA254


  • 2011: Jacques Delors
    • Laureate: Dr. h.c. Jacques Delors, former President of the European Commission
    • Laudatory speech: Dr. h. c. Hans-Dietrich Genscher, former Federal Minister of Foreign Affairs
    • Recipient of the prize money: Notre Europe


  • 2010: Carla del Ponte
    • Laureate: Carla del Ponte, lawyer
    • Laudatory speech: Prof. Dr. Dr. h. c. mult. Jutta Limbach, former President of the Federal Constitutional Court
    • Recipient of the prize money: Fondazione Falcone


  • 2009: Daniel Barenboim
    • Laureate: Dr. h. c. Daniel Barenboim, conductor
    • Laudatory speech: Dr. h.c. Joschka Fischer, former Federal Minister of Foreign Affairs 
    • Recipient of the prize money: West-Eastern Divan Orchestra