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Revocation of the Hessian Peace Prize 2019 in Germany

In December 2021, the Board of Trustees of the Albert Osswald Foundation decided to revoke the Hessian Peace Prize awarded to Ethiopian Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed in 2019.

The board of trustees justified its decision, which became public at the press conference for the Hessian Peace Prize 2022, with the conflict in the Ethiopian province of Tigray. It is the first time in the history of the prize that the Board of Trustees has made such a decision.

Ethiopian Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed received the Hessian Peace Prize in 2019 and later the Nobel Peace Prize for his efforts to achieve a historic peace agreement with neighboring Eritrea in 2018 after a two-decade conflict, as well as his domestic political reform efforts to liberalize the country.

The civil war in the Tigray region in the north of the country began in November 2020. Through peace negotiations, a ceasefire was reached in autumn 2022. During the conflict, the Ethiopian government led by Abiy Ahmed’s policies shared responsibility for the escalation of violence, which was accompanied by serious human rights violations.

Human rights violations in Ethiopia

The Board of Trustees has been following the conflict in the Tigray region with great attention since it broke out in November 2020, although access to information in the ongoing conflict was also difficult for the research institutions represented on the Board of Trustees. In December 2021, the United Nations Human Rights Council decided, at the initiative of the European Union, to set up a commission of inquiry to investigate human rights violations in the region. This decision by the Human Rights Council was based on reliable findings about serious human rights violations and violations of international humanitarian law by all parties to the conflict.

Justification for the withdrawal

The Hessian Peace Prize is awarded for achievements or efforts that lie in the past but are linked to hopes and expectations that extend into the future. The award ceremony to the Ethiopian Prime Minister in 2019 was linked to the hope that he would continue his efforts for peace on the African continent in the future and promote the liberalization of Ethiopia. It is in keeping with the idea of the prize not only to honor the efforts towards a negative peace and the absence of violence, but also to recognize the commitment to a positive peace that advances the promotion of human rights, reconciliation and the coming to terms with injustice. The Ethiopian government under Prime Minister Ahmed did not contribute to peace in 2020 and 2021, but instead, in the opinion of the Board of Trustees, proved to be part of the escalating violence. The country’s reform course was revised with a return to an authoritarian style of government.

This undermines the intentions with which the prize was awarded and justifies the decision to withdraw the prize. The board of trustees’ decision aims to protect the prize as well as the previous and future winners. There will be no refund of the prize money associated with the award.

Withdrawal of the Hessian Peace Award 2019

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