Azizbek Ashurov wins Nansen Refugee Award

Kyrgyz lawyer honored for efforts to end statelessness

Azizbek Ashurov

Photo: Chris de Bode / UNHCR
Azizbek Ashurov, Nansen Refugee Award recipient.

Marit Fosse

On Oct. 2 in Geneva, Filippo Grandi, the U.N. High Commissioner for Refugees, announced the 2019 Nansen Refugee Award winner in a press conference at the United Nations. This year’s laureate is Azizbek Ashurov, a lawyer, whose work has supported the efforts of the Kyrgyz Republic in becoming the first country in the world to end statelessness.

Statelessness affects millions of people worldwide, depriving them of legal rights or basic services and leaving them politically and economically marginalized, discriminated against and particularly vulnerable to exploitation and abuse.

Ashurov, through his organization Ferghana Valley Lawyers Without Borders (FVLWB), has helped well over 10,000 people to gain Kyrgyz nationality. After the dissolution of the Soviet Union in 1991 and the formation of new states, many people became stranded beyond newly established borders, often with invalid Soviet passports or no means to prove where they were born. This left hundreds of thousands of people stateless throughout the region, including in Kyrgyzstan.

UNHCR’s Nansen Refugee Award honors extraordinary service to the forcibly displaced. The award includes a commemorative medal and a $150,000 monetary prize, generously donated by the governments of Switzerland and Norway.

Read more about the Nansen Refugee award:

This article originally appeared in the October 18, 2019, issue of The Norwegian American.

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Marit Fosse

Marit Fosse trained as an economist from Norwegian school of Economics and Business Administration in Bergen (Norges Handelshøyskole NHH) and then earned a doctorate in social sciences. She is the author of several books. Nansen: Explorer and Humanitarian, co-authored with John Fox, was translated into Russian/Armenian/French. In addition, Fosse is the editor of International Diplomat/Diva International in Geneva, a magazine set up 20 years ago for diplomats and persons working in the international organizations in Geneva but also elsewhere. In her free time, Fosse is an accomplished painter.