On April 24, 2020, the Armenian Genocide Remembrance Day, the Aurora Humanitarian Initiative officially announced the opening of the nomination period for the 2021 Aurora Prize and called for putting forward inspiring humanitarians who go to extreme lengths to save the lives of others, including those fighting the global outbreak of COVID-19.
As nominations open for the sixth annual Aurora Prize for Awakening Humanity, a special nomination form is introduced this year for the candidates whose response to the COVID-19 pandemic in any professional or personal capacity has been exemplary. The Aurora Prize is a global humanitarian award established to recognize modern day heroes and the exceptional impact their actions have made on preserving human life and advancing humanitarian causes in the face of adversity. On behalf of the survivors of the Armenian Genocide and in gratitude to their saviors, an Aurora Prize Laureate is honored each year with a US $1,000,000 award, which gives the Laureate a unique opportunity to continue the cycle of giving and support the organizations that have inspired humanitarian action.
The opening of the nomination period for the 2021 Aurora Prize was announced during a special online discussion titled “Aurora. Standing in Solidarity,” dedicated to honoring those who perished a century ago and celebrating modern heroes. The event took place on April 24, 2020 and brought together Noubar Afeyan, Vartan Gregorian and Ruben Vardanyan, Co-Founders of the Initiative; Lord Ara Darzi, Chair of the Aurora Prize Selection Committee, and Marguerite Barankitse, Founder of Maison Shalom and inaugural Aurora Prize Laureate (2016). During the discussion, the Aurora Co-Founders also revealed the names of 2020 Aurora Humanitarians.
Nominations are open to the public and can be made for candidates who have put their life, health, freedom, reputation or livelihood at risk to preserve human life. After being submitted online, nominations are assessed by an esteemed Expert Panel (in 2020, the Panel was comprised of 50 members), and the Aurora Humanitarians and Laureate are chosen by the Aurora Prize Selection Committee.
The Committee is chaired by the Director of the Institute of Global Health Innovation at Imperial College London Lord Ara Darzi and includes Nobel Laureates Oscar Arias, Shirin Ebadi and Leymah Gbowee; former president of Ireland Mary Robinson; human rights activist Hina Jilani; former foreign minister of Australia and President Emeritus of the International Crisis Group Gareth Evans; former president of Mexico Ernesto Zedillo; Médecins Sans Frontières co-founder and former foreign minister of France Bernard Kouchner; former U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations Samantha Power; former CEO of Unilever and Co-founder and Chair of IMAGINE Paul Polman; human rights activist and Founding Director of Enough Project John Prendergast; Artistic and General Director of Mariinsky Theatre and Principal Conductor of the Munich Philharmoniker Valery Gergiev; President of the Carnegie Corporation of New York Vartan Gregorian. World famous peace and human rights activist Benjamin Ferencz and Academy Award-winning actor and humanitarian George Clooney are the Committee’s Honorary Co-Chairs.