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Serhiy Zhadan, The Glencree Centre for Peace and Reconciliation and s. Michaela Rak 20.10.2022

The Polish Prize of Sérgio Vieira de Mello, United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights
The recipients of this year’s winners of the Polish Prize of Sérgio Vieira de Mello, UN High Commissioner for Human Rights (2002–03) were announced at the session of the Award Committee held on 20 October 2022.

Participating in the work of the Award Committee were Representatives of the President of the Republic of Poland, the Ambassador of the Federative Republic of Brazil, the Ambassador of the Kingdom of Sweden in Poland, the UN High Commissioner for Refugees, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, the Ombudsman for Civil Rights Protection, the Mayor of the City of Krakow, the Consul General of the United States in Krakow, the ZNAK Publishing House, the Founders and Initiators of the Prize, as well as President of the Board and the Director of the Villa Decius Association.

This year, more than a dozen nominations were submitted for the Award. Among the nominees were individuals and organisations from different parts of the world promoting human rights and the dialogue between religions and cultures.

By the decision of the Award Committee, the 2022 Polish Sérgio Vieira de Mello Prize is awarded to:

 1. in the category Person: Serhiy Zhadan (Ukraine)
"The Polish Prize of Sergio de Mello, a Brazilian, goes today to his namesake, Serhiy Zhadan, a Ukrainian, whose achievements and life are a testimony to the attitude presented by de Mello in his life. This prize is also a tribute to the people who, in a situation of aggression by a revisionist Russia, stand steadfastly in defence of the dignity and freedom of their nation. It is also an expression of our solidarity with Ukraine, where I had the honour as Ambassador to represent the Republic of Poland. We know that people like Serhiy Zhadan will not cease in their efforts for freedom and democracy, and that the Laureate's homeland, Ukraine, is today becoming an inspiration to the world. -   emphasised in his speech Jan Piekło, Chairman of the Villa Decius Association.

2. in the category Non-Governmental Organisation: The Glencree Centre for Peace and Reconciliation (Ireland)
"I am delighted that the prize on behalf of the Glencree Peace and Reconciliation Centre is being received today by Barbara Walshe, the long-standing President of the Board, and to her I would like to pay tribute and congratulate on the hard and fruitful work of all the staff at the Centre, led by Managing Director Naoimh McNamee. Glencree has played an important role in the Irish peace process, bringing together those in conflict to hold a confidential dialogue and helping to build relationships across the divide. In addition to its ongoing work on the island of Ireland, the Centre's perspective and experience is helping other countries around the world in conflict resolution." - said in her laureate's speech Anna Sochańska, Ambassador Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary of the Republic of Poland to the Republic of Ireland.

3. Honorary Prize: Sister Michaela Rak (Poland)

The recipients will be presented with a statuette by Andrzej Renes, commemorative diplomas, and a monetary prize founded by the Sponsor – ZUE SA Group. 

The Gala was followed by a panel discussion with the Award winners, moderated by journalist Magdalena Rigamonti.

The honorary patrons of the Polish Prize of Sérgio Vieira de Mello, UN High Commissioner for Human Rights are:




Poet, writer, activist, translator from German, member of the punk band Zhadan and the Dogs. Graduate and lecturer in Ukrainian studies and German studies at the Pedagogical Institute in Kharkov. Member of the 'Red Fira' group, former President of the Union of Ukrainian Writers (2000-2004). He is the recipient of many awards, including the Bu-Ba-Bu for the best poem of 1998, as well as the Berlin Bridges Prize, the Joseph Conrad Prize, the Hannah Arendt Prize. In October 2015, he was awarded the Angelus Central European Literature Prize for his novel Mesopotamia. He was nominated for the International Literary Award of the City of Gdansk European Poet of Freedom in the second edition (2010-2012). This year he was awarded the title "Man of the Year" by "Gazeta Wyborcza" and was the winner of the Peace Prize of the German Booksellers. His books have been translated into many languages. Volumes of his poems "Cultural History of the Beginning of the Century and Other Poems", "Drohobycz", "Ethiopia" and "Antenna", as well as seven novels have been published in Polish translations: "Big Mac", "Depeche Mode", "Anarchy in the UKR", "Anthem of Democratic Youth", "Voroshilovgrad", "Mesopotamia" and "Internat". He lives in Kharkiv, where, since the beginning of the Russian-Ukrainian war, he has been actively involved in defending the city and helping its inhabitants: among other things, by organising and supporting deliveries of medicines, food, hygiene products for the civilian population as well as vehicles for the hospitals of the fighting Kharkiv.

The Glencree Centre for Peace and Reconciliation

The Glencree Centre for Peace and Reconciliation is an independent non-governmental organisation founded in 1974 in response to the Northern Ireland conflict. It has played an important role in the peace process at that time, mainly by enabling both sides of the bloody conflict to engage in constructive dialogue and to establish a relationship of trust across political and religious divides as well as against mutual prejudices.
The Centre's mission and the main objective of its activities is "Peace for All". The organisation specialises in conflict resolution, extensive inclusive dialogue, mediation, negotiation and peace education. For almost 50 years, The Glencree Centre has carried out its conciliation programmes on 4 continents, including Israel and Palestine, Turkey, Haiti and Thailand, working with both individuals and entire community groups.

"We believe in a world where human rights are protected, where diversity is a cherished value, where every person can live in dignity, in a society based on respect and equality, free of violence and exclusion, where conflicts are resolved peacefully," - say the founders of the Centre.

To receive the award on behalf of the Centre was Barbara Walshe - the Centre's President for the years 2014-22.


Polish nun, founder and director of the Blessed Michael Sopoćko Hospice in Vilnius. Sister Michaela is responsible for developing hospice care for the multicultural Vilnius region. It is the first and only centre of this kind in Lithuania. On the initiative of Sister Michaela Rak, the first children's hospice in the Baltic States was opened in Vilnius in early 2020.

She graduated from the Academy of Catholic Theology in Warsaw and completed her studies in law at Cardinal Stefan Wyszyński University in Warsaw. Since 1984, she has belonged to the Congregation of the Sisters of the Merciful Jesus. From 1996 to 2008, she lived in Gorzów Wielkopolski, where she was one of the founders and later managed the Saint Camillus Hospice. She raised funds for the institution through street collections, charity concerts and the Fields of Hope campaign. She helped set up hospices in Minsk, Kaliningrad and a home hospice near Berlin. For her charitable work she has received a number of distinctions, such as the St Christopher statuette in the category of "Angel of Mercy over Vilnius", the title of Merciful Samaritan, the "Pride of Lithuania" award on the occasion of the Lithuanian Independence Day, the Officer's Cross of the Order of Rebirth of Poland, the Medal of the Centenary of Regained Independence.

About the Prize

Set up in 2003 by the Villa Decius Association, the Polish Prize of Sérgio Vieira de Mello, UN High Commissioner for Human Rights (2002–03) is awarded to natural persons and non-governmental organisations for their activity in support of protection and promotion of human rights, and peaceful coexistence and cooperation of societies, religions and cultures. The number of its recipients includes Tadeusz Mazowiecki (Poland), Alaksandar Milinkievič (Belarus), Krystyna Pryjomko-Serafin (United Kingdom), Leyla Ynus (Azerbaijan), Pietro Bartolo (Italy), Basil Kerski (Poland), and Tamila Tasheva (Ukraine). The ranks of institutions honoured with the Prize include Helsinki Foundation for Human Rights (Poland), Memorial society (Russian Federation), Halina Nieć Legal Aid Centre (Poland), La Strada – Foundation Against Trafficking in Human Beings and Slavery (Poland), Interdenominational Community of Albania (Albania), and the Amalipe Centre for Interethnic Dialogue and Tolerance (Bulgaria), Polish Medical Mission (Poland) or the Centre for the Defence of Human Rights "Viasna" (Belarus).

Sérgio Vieira de Mello

Sérgio Vieira de Mello (1948–2003) was a Brazilian diplomat fluent in six languages, who defended two doctorates in humanities at Sorbonne. In several decades of work for the UN, he served at various posts, including those of UN Secretary General’s Special Envoy in Kosovo, East Timor UN Transitional Administrator, 3rd UN High Commissioner for Human Rights (2002–03), and the EU Secretary General Special Envoy for Iraq. While holding that function, he was killed in a bomb raid on the UN headquarters in Baghdad on 19 August 2003. Throughout his life, Sérgio Vieira do Mello actively supported protection of freedom and human rights, intercultural dialogue, fight on terrorism and refugee crisis, and supported compliance to international law.

Villa Decius Association

Villa Decius Institute for Culture
Ars Modi

Media partners:
TVP3 Kraków
Polskie Radio dla Zagranicy - Redakcja Polska
Radio Kraków
Kraków PL
Wyborcza Pl
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