Peter Nobel awarded the Martin Henriksson Holmdahl Prize for human rights and freedoms

14 June 2021

Peter Nobel 1986

Peter Nobel

Peter Nobel, J.D., has been awarded the 2021 Martin Henriksson Holmdahl Prize. The SEK 50,000 prize is Uppsala University’s top honour for efforts to promote human rights and freedoms.

Explanatory statement: “Through a life-long commitment through academic teaching and in public discourse, Peter Nobel has helped ensure that human rights and humanitarian law are continually on the agenda, not just within the Faculty of Law at Uppsala University but also nationally and internationally. Peter Nobel is in all respects a leading figure in efforts within human rights in Sweden.

Peter Nobel received his PhD in Law at Uppsala University in the 1950s. He was hired by the Chrysanders law firm in Uppsala and showed an early interest in what he called human law. He quickly realised that asylum applications could not be processed without insight into the human rights situation in the countries from which the applicant came. Human rights offences were often the reason people were forced to leave their native country.

In the 1960s, Peter Nobel took part in countless debates, particularly about African countries, such as in connection with the large pan-African refugee conference in 1967, which became a watershed event. He then took on the repatriation of war prisoners after the 1973 Middle East war, and in the 1980s published a number of works on refugees and the development in Africa, including an anthology published by the Nordic Africa Institute.

In 1986, Peter Nobel was appointed Sweden’s, and the world’s, first ombudsman against ethnic discrimination. He then served as secretary general of the Swedish Red Cross for a period and as an expert on the UN’s Committee on the Elimination of Racial Discrimination (1998–2001).

Among his many appointments include his government assignment to help survivors of the Estonia sinking and serving on the Swedish Press Council. In recent years, he has been working to promote the Sámi population’s rights and been deeply involved in the banning of racist organisations.

In 1985, Peter Nobel became an honorary doctor at the Faculty of Law at Uppsala University, where he has been a frequent lecturer, even during the ongoing the pandemic.

Last modified: 2021-08-26