The internationally renowned Dan David Prize announced Michael Ignatieff and Reporters Without Borders as the winners of the $1 million award in the field of Defending Democracy.

Michael Ignatieff, president and rector of Central European University in Budapest, 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. He is acknowledged for his leadership on the front lines against the campaign to stifle academic freedom, free expression and pluralism in the country.

“My first reaction was utter astonishment, followed by gratitude, and then, since this is recognition for work done in defense of democracy, the feeling that I still have lots to do,” said Ignatieff. “I am especially delighted to be honored in Israel.”

Reporters Without Borders (in French, RSF) helps sustain journalists internationally who are assigned to areas subjected to attacks on the free press. It monitors government policies regarding the press and other media, as well as and provides material, financial and psychological support for journalists and newspapers discriminated and persecuted by the authorities.

Since its founding in 1985, RSF has been able to assist more than 500 journalists, and in some cases, helped free some of them from arrest and imprisonments.

Michael Ignatieff, president and rector of Central European University in Budapest. Credit: CEU Daniel Vegel.

In reaction to winning the award, Christophe Deloire, Secretary General of RSF, said: “It is an honor for us, and it will be so helpful to continue to enhance our project and find concrete solutions for a free, independent and pluralistic journalism.”

The prize is named after the late international businessman and philanthropist whose aim was to reward those who have made a lasting impact on society, and to help students and entrepreneurs become the scholars and leaders of the future.

Along with the award for Defending Democracy, the 2019 Dan David Prize also recognizes remarkable work by professors Kenneth Pomeranz and Sanjay Subrahmanyam in macro-history, and Christiana Figueres for combating climate change.

The total purse of $3 million makes the award one of the highest-value prizes worldwide. Notable 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).

Ignatieff and Reporters Without Borders, along with the three additional prize laureates, will be honored at the 2019 Dan David Prize Award Ceremony to be held in Tel Aviv in May.