Former Foreign Minister of France Bernard Kouchner Joins the Aurora Prize Selection Committee

  • Médecins Sans Frontières co-founder and former foreign minister of France joins co-chair George Clooney and Selection Committee Members to select future Aurora Prize finalists and laureates

November 20, 2017 – YEREVAN, ARMENIA – The Aurora Humanitarian Initiative is pleased to announce that Bernard Kouchner, the co-founder of Médecins Sans Frontières (Doctors Without Borders), is joining the Aurora Prize for Awakening Humanity Selection Committee. The committee, which selects the annual Aurora Prize finalists and laureate, is comprised of humanitarians, human right activists and former heads of state, and is chaired by Academy-award winning actor and philanthropist George Clooney.

Internationally renowned politician and physician Bernard Kouchner co-founded the Nobel Peace Prize-winning Médecins Sans Frontières in 1971 and co-founded Médecins du Monde in 1980. From 2007 to 2010, he served as France’s minister of foreign and European affairs, and earlier, as minister of health. He has organized humanitarian operations around the world, including in Somalia, El Salvador, Lebanon, Syria, Vietnam, Cambodia, Chad, Libya, Nigeria, Thailand, Uruguay, Peru, Guatemala, Honduras, and elsewhere. He oversaw Medecins Sans Frontieres’ medical relief response to the Spitak Earthquake in Armenia, which occurred 29 years ago.

“We are pleased to have Bernard Kouchner as part of the Aurora Prize Selection Committee. He has spent most of his life contributing his time and expertise to assist in emergency situations in the developing world,” said Ruben Vardanyan, co-founder of the Aurora Humanitarian Initiative. “Thanks to Mr. Kouchner and his organization, the population impacted by the 1988 earthquake in Armenia received immediate medical care. We are grateful for his invaluable efforts and pleased to tap into his expertise as we review the Aurora Prize nominations.”

“I am deeply honored to join the Aurora Prize Selection Committee and become part of an initiative that has already made an incredible impact on thousands of lives in such a short period of time,” said Bernard Kouchner. “Throughout my career, I’ve had the opportunity to come into contact with many heroes while in emergency zones, and I am thrilled with the opportunity to select such admirable individuals as future Aurora Prize laureates.”

Bernard Kouchner joins current Aurora Prize Selection Committee member Nobel Laureates Oscar Arias, Shirin Ebadi and Leymah Gbowee; former president of Ireland Mary Robinson; former president of Mexico Ernesto Zedillo; human rights activist Hina Jilani; Director of the Institute of Global Health Innovation at Imperial College London Lord Ara Darzi; President Emeritus of the International Crisis Group and former foreign minister of Australia Gareth Evans; President of Carnegie Corporation of New York Vartan Gregorian; and Academy Award-winning actor and humanitarian George Clooney.

Founded on behalf of the survivors of the Armenian Genocide and in gratitude to their saviors, the Aurora Prize is in its third year. For the 2018 Aurora Prize for Awakening Humanity, there were 750 submissions from 115 countries. The Selection Committee will gather in Berlin, Germany on December 4, 2017 to review the nominations. Also in Berlin, the Aurora Humanitarian Initiative will host its first Aurora Dialogues outside of Armenia. Entitled “Millions on The Move: Need for Development and Integration,” the Aurora Dialogues Berlin is a joint effort of the Aurora Humanitarian Initiative, Global Perspectives Initiative, Robert Bosch Stiftung and Stiftung Mercator, to be held on December 4-5, 2017.

Speakers will address the state of the global migration crisis and look at the role of different actors in advancing positive change.

The 2018 Aurora Prize Finalists will be announced in Armenia on April 24, 2018, when the world commemorates the Genocide of Armenians in 1915. The third annual prize — $100,000 to the laureate and $1 million awarded to organizations of the laureate’s choice, will be announced on June 10, 2018 at a ceremony in Armenia.

About the Aurora Humanitarian Initiative

Founded on behalf of the survivors of the Armenian Genocide and in gratitude to their saviors, the Aurora Humanitarian Initiative seeks to empower modern-day saviors to offer life and hope to those in urgent need of basic humanitarian aid and thus continue the cycle of giving internationally. The Aurora Humanitarian Initiative is Gratitude in Action. It is an eight-year commitment (2015 to 2023, in remembrance of the eight years of the Armenian Genocide 1915-1923) to support people and promote projects that tackle the needs of the most helpless and destitute, and do so at great risk. This is achieved through the Initiative’s various programs: The Aurora Prize for Awakening Humanity, the Aurora Dialogues, the Aurora Humanitarian Index, the Gratitude Projects and the 100 LIVES Initiative. The Aurora Humanitarian Initiative is the vision of philanthropists Vartan Gregorian, Noubar Afeyan and Ruben Vardanyan who have, already in the second year, been joined by several dozen new donors and partners. The Initiataive welcomes all who embrace a commitment to our shared humanity.

The Aurora Humanitarian Initiative is represented by three organizations – Aurora Humanitarian Initiative Foundation, Inc. (New York, USA), the 100 Lives Foundation (Geneva, Switzerland) and the IDeA Foundation (Yerevan, Armenia). 

Further information is available at

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