The Third World Prize of US $100,000 was established by the Board of Trustees of the Third World Foundation, on the basis of a firm pledge given by the Bank of Credit and Commerce International SA (BCCI), for the establishment of a Third World Prize Endowment of US $10million.
The Nobel Prizes are widely regarded as the most prestigious awards given for intellectual achievement in the world. Until 1979 there were no major international awards specifically intended to recognise significant contributions to development in the Third World countries.
The Hon Michael Manley, Prime Minister of Jamaica, announced the institution of an annual Third World Prize at the inaugural function which initiated the Third World Annual Lecture series in London last October, 1979. The function was attended by 400 distinguished guests, which included statesmen, industrialists, diplomats and bankers. This award of $100,000 would go to the individual or group who has made the year's most outstanding contribution to Third World development, especially in the economic, social, political or scientific fields.
The principal qualities the Prize was to honour were originality, inspiration, enterprise, creativity, innovation and service for the general benefit of people in the Third World countries. On the basis of the many firm pledges the Foundation had received, a Third World Prize Fund of US$1 million was to be established by January 1, 1990. The first award winner would be announced in November 1989 and it was intended that the presentation ceremony would take place in a Third World country. All recipients of the Prize would be expected to deliver a subsequent Third World Lecture (either in person or by proxy) on their work and achievements.
Responsibility for the administration of the Prize was delegated to a company established under the auspices of the Third World Foundation in return for the payment of a management fee. The whole of the profits of this company under a Deed of Covenant, were payable to the Third World Foundation.
From time to time, other awards were expected to be made in areas that the Selection Committee - chaired by HE S S Ramphal of Guyana - felt worthy of special recognition.
The Prize was open to all persons regardless of race, nationality, creed or sex., and could be jointly conferred when the recipients have worked together or were otherwise considered to be equally deserving of recognition in the year of the Prize.
The Prize was to be conferred beginning with the year 1980 and every year thereafter. The Selection Committee would be free to withhold the Prize in any one year if they considered that none of the nominations for that year merited such recognition.
- Announcement of the Third World Prize on 29 October 1979 funded by Bank of Credit and Commerce International (BCC)
Prize Selection Committee
A Selection Committee to award the Third World Prize was constituted by the Board of Trustees of the Third World Foundation and determined priorities from time to time.
The following persons constituted the first Selection Committee:
Chairman: HE S S Ramphal, Guyana, second Commonwealth Secretary-General, who held the position from 1975 to 1990.
Member: E V Iglesias, Uruguay, one of the founders of the Third World Forum and its first elected President. He also held the position of Executive Secretary of the United Nations Economic Commission for Latin America and the Caribbean (ECLAC).
Member: Robert E A Gardiner, Ghana, civil servant, university professor, and economist who served as the Executive Secretary of the United Nations Economic Commission for Africa, and as the Commissioner for Economic Planning of Ghana.
Member: B K Nehru, India, diplomat who worked as Executive Director in the World Bank and was Chairman of the United Nations Investment committee for many years. He served as Ambassador of India to several countries, in particular USA and was the Indian High Commissioner in the UK.
Secretary: Mian Azim Husain, principal advisor to the Foundation who served in India’s foreign service, holding several ambassadorial positions.
Recipients of the Third World Prizes
Third World Prizes were awarded from 1980 until 1989.
Dr. Raul Prebisch
Dr Raul Prebisch, an international development economist from Argentina, for his approach to development with a more trade-focused approach, advocating preferential access to the markets of developed countries and regional integration, building up trade between peripheral countries.
Noted particularly throughout Latin America, then 80-year-old scholar, the first to receive the award of the Third World Prize, had served in several important posts in private banking, with the Argentine government and at the United Nations. The presentation of the 1980 Third World Prize was made on 2 April 1981 at a dinner in the New York Hilton Hotel by the Chairman of the Third World Foundation Selection Committee HE Mr S. S. Ramphal, then the Commonwealth Secretary General. The guest of honour at the ceremony was HE Dr Kurt Waldheim, Secretary General of the United Nations.
- 1980 Third World Prize Presentation Ceremony
- Third World Prize presented for the first time at a ceremony in the United Nations headquarters in New York, USA (Video)
In the realm of internal affairs, Dr Prebsich became Executive Secretary of the UN Economic Commission for Latin America (CEPAL) and was Director-General of the Latin American Institute for Economic and Social Planning. He served as the founding Secretary-General of the United Nations Conference on Trade and Development (UNCTAD) and tried to forge UNCTAD into a body advocating the case of the whole developing world. His ideas gave shape to concerted demands by developing countries for a New International Economic Order.
Dr. Mwalima Julius K Nyerere
Dr Julius Nyerere, President of Tanzania, whose leadership commanded international attention and attracted worldwide respect for his consistent emphasis upon ethical principles as the basis of practical policies.
Ideologically an African nationalist and African socialist, he promoted a political philosophy known as Ujamaa, a Swahili word that means 'extended family', 'brotherhood'; it exerts that a person becomes a person through the people or community.
The Prize was awarded by (Mrs) Shrimati Indira Gandhi, Prime Minister of India, to Julius Nyerere at a ceremony at the Vigan Bhavan in New Delhi, India on 22 February 1982. The presentation was witnessed by a gathering of over 1,000 persons including government ministers, members of the Indian parliament, and other distinguished Indian personalities, members of the diplomatic corps and high level delegations from 45 Third World countries attending the South-South New Delhi Consultation.
International Rice Research Institute (IRRI)
In recognition of the work of IRRI, based in the Philippines, with the scientific community and especially those concerned with food security under the guidance of Dr S M Swaminathan, Director General of IRRI from 1982 to 1988. Dr Swaminathan was renowned for his leading role in India's "Green Revolution", a program under which high-yield varieties of wheat and rice seedlings were planted in the fields of poor farmers and who went on to hold the UNESCO Chair in Eco-technology; in 1987 he was named the first World Food Prize Laureate for developing and spearheading the introduction of high-yielding wheat and rice varieties into India during the 1960s when that country faced the prospect of widespread famine.
IRRI was by the excellence and relevance of its scientific contribution to improving the productivity and production of rice and rice-based cropping systems made a truly outstanding contribution to the Third World development and wholly dedicated work that touched the lives of millions in the Third World, improving the human condition in truly practical and lasting ways.
The presentation of the 1982 Third World Prize was timed to coincide with the South-South summit held in 1983 in Beijing, China. The Premier of the People's Republic of China, Mr Zhao Ziyang, made the presentation. The prize was received by Dr M. S. Swaminathan, Director General of IRRI (1982-1988).
Professor Arvid Pardo
Arvid Pardo, Professor of International Relations and Senior Research Fellow at the Institute of Marine and Coastal Studies of the University of California, Los Angeles in recognition of his work to reform the law of the sea, calling for international regulations to ensure peace at sea, to prevent further pollution and to protect ocean resources.
The Third World Prize for 1983 was presented to Professor Arvid Pardo by Belisario Betancur, President of Colombia on 23 February 1984 at the inaugural session of the South-South conference in Cartegena, Colombia on The Role of Regional Integration in the Present World Economic Crisis.
Pardo served as the first Permanent Representative of Malta to the United Nations. In November 1967, he made an electrifying speech before the UN General Assembly proposing that the seabed constitutes part of the common heritage of mankind, a phrase that appears in Article 136 of the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea, and asked that some of the sea's wealth be used to bankroll a fund that would help close the gap between rich and poor nations. Pardo also served as Malta’s Ambassador to the United States, USSR and was High Commissioner to Canada.
Willy Brandt, former Chancellor of the Federal Republic of Germany (West Germany), calling for drastic changes in the global attitude towards development in the Third World.
The Third World Prize for 1984 was awarded to Willy Brandt by the Third World Foundation ‘in recognition of his contribution to world Peace and Third World development’, specifically for "advancing the powerful idea that assistance given by the North to the South should be viewed in terms of mutual benefit and common survival".
- Extracts from address by Shridath S Ramphal, Secretary-General of the Commonwealth and Chairman of the Third World Prize Selection Committee, at the 1984 Third World Prize ceremony.
- Extracts from speech made by H.E. Mr Javier Perez de Cueller, United Nationals Secretary General
The prize was presented to Willy Brandt in New York in April 1985 at a symposium of the Third World Foundation by Sridath Ramphal, Chairman of the Third World Prize Selection Committee then also Secretary General of the Commonwealth Secretariat: the Guest of Honour was Mr Javier Perez de Cuellar, Secretary General of the United Nations.
Brandt was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize in 1971 for his efforts to strengthen cooperation in western Europe through the (EEC, now EU) and to achieve reconciliation between West Germany and the countries of Eastern Europe. In 1977, Brandt was appointed as Chairman of the Independent Commission for International Developmental Issues.
Under Brandt the Institute produced a report in 1980 known as the Brandt Report, breaking new ground with a set of far-reaching proposals that suggested there was a great gap in standard of living that existed along the North-South divide and that there should therefore be a large transfer of resources from developed to developing countries. As Chairman of the North-South Commission he drew the world's attention to the plight of the Third World.
Nelson Mandela and Winnie Mandela
Awarded jointly to Nelson Rolihahlu Mandela, and Nomzamo Winne Mandela married to Nelson Mandela at the time, both South African ant-apartheid activists, for the message of freedom for all the world.
The Prize was presented by Dr Mahatir Mohamad, Prime Minister of Malaysia, at the inaugural session of the Second Summit of the Third World Scholars and Statesmen, South-South II: Chartering the Way Forward, in Kuala Lumpur on 5 May 1986. Oliver Tambo representing the African National Congress party of South Africa accepted the Prize on behalf of the Mandelas.
Oliver Tambo and Nelson Mandela along with others had formed the African National Congress (ANC) Youth League and Tambo served as Acting President of the ANC while Nelson Mandela was in prison. Following a five-year banning order served on him in 1959 by the South African government Tambo was sent abroad by the ANC to mobilise opposition to apartheid and was living in London. He returned to South Africa in 1990.
- 1985 Third World Prize
- Mandelas Awarded Prize of $100,000
- Address delivered by Oliver Tambo on receiving the Third World Prize 1985 on behalf of Nelson Rolihahlu Mandela, and Nomzamo Winne Mandela - Third World Quarterly Vol 8 No. 2
Nelson Mandela joined the African National Congress (ANC) engaged in resistance and argued for the setting up of a military wing within the ANC. Nelson Mandela’s reputation grew steadily while he was in prison for 27 years; he consistently refused to compromise his political position to obtain his freedom and became a potent symbol of resistance as the anti-apartheid movement gathered strength. Nelson Mandela was released from prison in 1990 and was the country's first black head of state. The Nobel Peace Prize 1993 was awarded jointly to Nelson Mandela and Frederik Willem de Klerk "for their work for the peaceful termination of the apartheid regime, and for laying the foundations for a new democratic South Africa."
Winnie Mandela emerged as a leading opponent of apartheid during the latter part of Nelson Mandela’s imprisonment. Due to her political activities, she was regularly detained and imprisoned by the ruling South African National Party government. She was promoted by the ANC as a symbol of their struggle against apartheid.
Bob Geldof, a renowned Irish rock singer-songwriter and musician, in recognition of his "mammoth personal crusade against human suffering and human indifference, with which millions the world over identified".
The Third World Prize Selection Committee's overriding consideration was Bob Geldof's ability to bring into life a dynamic relationship across the North-South divide from the realm of charity into the world of popular politics.
The prize was presented by Jose Sarney, President of Brazil.
Bob Geldof was widely recognised for his activism, especially anti-poverty efforts and concerns for the impact that famine was having on lives in Africa, drawing the world's attention to the shocking images of starvation and death during the 1983-1985 famine in Ethiopia. As he began to learn more about the situation, he discovered that one of the main reasons why African nations were in such dire peril was the obligation to make repayments on loans that their countries had taken from Western banks. For every pound donated in aid, ten times as much would have to leave the country in loan repayments.
The International Planned Parenthood Federation
The International Planned Parenthood Federation (IPPF) was awarded the Third World Prize for 1987 in recognition for the pioneering and courageous work carried out by the IPPF in helping governments to educate poor people about the concept of responsible parenthood with innovative activities that break the barriers against family planning. The IPPF is an independent organisation led by volunteers that works through Family Planning Associations and informal arrangements in countries worldwide.
The Prize was presented to Mrs Avabia B Wadia, a Sri Lankan born naturalised Indian social worker and President and founder of IPPF, on 2 May 1987 by Jose Sarney, President of Brazil, at a conference held in Brasilia, the capital of Brazil. The conference sponsored by the University of Brasilia and the Third World Foundation brought together an eminent group of specialists to discuss practical responses to the international debt crisis.
Gro Harlem Brundtland
Gro Harlem Brundtland, Prime Minister of Norway, for her work as leader of the World Commission on Environment and Development (WCED).
The Third World Foundation's Selection Committee for award of the 1988 Third World Prize acknowledged the special leadership role that Gro Brundtland had played in widening the outlook of the developed world. She made the international community realise that poverty is the ultimate polluter and the poor people are the principal victims of environmental damage, and most prone to disasters of global warming resulting from energy use of the developed world.
The Third World Foundation invited Robert Mugabe, Prime Minister of Zimbabwe, to present to the prize.
As an environment minister and first female Prime Minister of Norway Gro Brundtland gained international recognition as a leader on key global challenges, the environment, human rights, sustainable development, and global security issues. She also believed that health was a basic human right and became identified with public health and environmental issues and with the rights of women.
In 1983 she was invited to chair the newly formed United Nations WCED, that became known as the Brundtland Commission, and developed the broad political concept of sustainable development to address the global challenges we face, including poverty, inequality, climate change, environmental degradation, peace and justice. The Commission published its report, Our Common future, in 1987.
After the end of Brundtland's last term as Prime Minister of Norway, she was named Director-General of the World Health Organisation and later appointed UN Special Envoy on Climate Change.
Archbishop Desmond Mpilo Tutu
Archbishop Desmond Tutu shared the 1989 Third World Prize conferred on individuals or institutions for their exceptional roles in the development of Cold War-era “Third World” countries, especially in economic, social, political and scientific fields.
A prominent campaigner against apartheid in South Africa, Desmond Tutu, the Archbishop of the Anglican Church in South Africa, spoke out against the regime throughout the period that Nelson Mandela was in prison. He was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize in 1984 for his work to end apartheid which made a big difference in his international standing, and was a helpful contribution to the struggle against apartheid.
In 1989 the South African President Nelson Mandela, who with his wife Winnie Mandela shared the 1985 Third World Prize, appointed the Archbishop head of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission to probe apartheid-era human rights abuses of the period, and offered legal immunity to those who confessed to their crimes. The Archbishop went on to become one of South Africa’s most enduring voices for social change and poverty alleviation.
Third World Quarterly and South publications of Third World Foundation