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Right Livelihood Awards: Four awards for a better world


The Right Livelihood Award is given to people who work for peace, sustainability and justice. One of the prizes goes to a human rights defender from Ukraine.

By Sofie Donges, ARD Studio Stockholm, currently in Helsinki

Oleksandra Matviychuk is sitting in her office in Kyiv and looks tired. With her organization Center for Civil Liberties, the lawyer documents war crimes in Ukraine and advocates for their prosecution. She is one of four recipients of the Right Livelihood Awards, the so-called Alternative Nobel Prize, this year. According to the jury’s statement, Oleksandra Matvijtschuk was honored for her commitment to democracy and the rule of law.

Matviychuk is considered one of the most prominent human rights defenders in Ukraine. Even when she’s exhausted, she keeps going. Her drive: people. Matviychuk explains:

people inspire me. We have a gigantic wave of solidarity in the country and ordinary people are doing extraordinary things.

When international organizations withdrew their staff, it was they who risked their lives for others who didn’t even know them, says the human rights defender.

Human rights defender Oleksandra Matviychuk is sitting in her office in Kyiv.

Image: ARD/Sofie Donges

Crises happen simultaneously

War, climate change, pandemic: The crises are not currently occurring one after the other, but are happening simultaneously, according to the jury. People and organizations who are courageous and want to do something about it have been awarded the prize by the Swedish Right Livelihood Foundation for a good 40 years. Managing Director Ole von Uexküll explained that the jury “saw how drastically the global crises are currently escalating and then asked itself how we can change the system that produces these crises again and again”. The best way to do this is to point out that there are people all over the world “who are on the right path to making this change”.

Three more prizes will be awarded

Three other prizes are awarded: Fartun Adan and Illwad Elman share an award. The two women from Somalia have been campaigning for the demilitarization of their home country for years. For example, by reintegrating former child soldiers into society or supporting victims of sexualised violence.

Other award winners are the organization Cecosesola from Venezuela with its cooperative economic model as an alternative to profit-driven economies. The fourth prize winner is the organization Africa Institute for Energy Governance, which works for climate justice in Uganda.

Price as a chance to get in touch with people

The Ukrainian Matvijtschuk also sees her prize as an important door opener. She explains: “This award is a sign of support for my work and the work of other human rights activists and freedom fighters in the Ukrainian population”.

But for her it is also an opportunity to talk to politicians, diplomats and other committed people when she comes to Sweden.

The Right Livelihood Award, worth around 90,000 euros, will be presented at a ceremony in Stockholm at the end of November.

Right Livelihood Award: Four awards for a better world

Sofie Donges, ARD Stockholm, 29.9.2022 8:36 a.m