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Reporters Without Borders (RSF) and Michael Ignatieff, of the Central European University in Budapest Named Dan David Prize Winners

The internationally renowned Dan David Prize annually awards three prizes of US $1 million each to outstanding figures and organizations whose efforts have made outstanding humanistic, scientific and technological contributions and represent remarkable achievement in selected fields within the three dimensions of time - Past, Present and Future. This year’s fields are Macro History, Defending Democracy, and Combatting Climate Change.


This year’s Dan David Prize Laureates in the “Present” dimension, in the field of Defending Democracy, are: Reporters Without Bordersan international organization helping to sustain the freedom of the press across national boundaries; and Michael Ignatieff, President and Rector of the Central European University in Budapest.

Reporters Without Borders, also known under its French name Reporters sans frontières (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 material, financial and psychological support for journalists and newspapers discriminated against and persecuted by the authorities. Since its founding in 1985, RSF has become a reference for journalists at risk worldwide. RSF also promotes efficiently the evolution of the international legal framework and advocates for concrete solutions. Seventy years after the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, RSF has launched in 2018 a key initiative about Information and democracy. by creating an international commission composed by 25 prominent figures from 18 nationalities, including Nobel laureates, famous journalists facing authoritarian strongmen and specialists of new technologies. This commission adopted the “International Declaration on Information and Democracy”, which aims at establishing basic principles for the global information and communication space. 12 heads of Governments and States committed to sign a pledge on Information and Democracy based on this declaration.
RSF also launched the Journalism Trust Initiative (JTI), with the aim of promoting journalistic methods, editorial independence, media transparency, and respect for journalistic ethics by giving concrete advantages (especially technological and economic ones) to news media that adhere to standards defined collaboratively in a process of self-regulation. 

Michael 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 in the front lines against the campaign to stifle academic freedom, free expression and pluralism in the country.

In reaction to the nomination of Reporters Without Borders, Christophe Deloire, Secretary general of RSF, said : “We are particularly glad and proud to receive the Dan David Prize. It is an honor for us and it will be so helpful to continue enhance our project and find concrete solutions for a free, independent and pluralistic journalism. But this award adds up to 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. Do we want a society where there are “trusted third parties” who through verification rules, ethical principles, guarantee access to concrete realities, or a society where we are engaged in propaganda or private propaganda in the form of communication campaigns sometimes disguised as journalism? Democratic guarantees for information and freedom of opinion must be set up in the digital era. The Dan David Prize will help us to continue our efforts with conviction and determination”. 

“The liberal democratic order faces a rising tide of new authoritarianism and populism; the very values that have sustained freedom and democracy are called into question,” observed Ariel David, a member of the Dan David Prize’s board and son of the Prize founder. “Reporters Without Borders and Michael Ignatieff are being recognized 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.”

The Dan David Prize is named after the late Mr. 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.  

The Dan David Prize’s unique approach utilizes a “roving” formula that rewards achievements in all fields of human endeavor, rather than in a fixed set of categories. Each year a new theme is selected for each of the three time dimensions, rewarding accomplishments that expand knowledge of the past, enrich society in the present, and promise to improve the future of our world. Along with the Defending Democracy award, the 2019 Dan David Prize will also recognize remarkable work in macro history and in combatting climate change. 

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).
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