The nominees of the 2021 Chatham House Prize have been announced, with the Oxford Vaccine Group and Professor Dame Sarah Gilbert, Angela Merkel, and Ecuadorian environmentalist Nemonte Nenquimo all in the running.
The prize is an annual honour awarded to the person, persons, or organization deemed to have made the most significant contribution to the improvement of international relations in the previous year. The Chatham House Prize is voted for by Chatham House members following nominations from the institute’s staff.
Professor Gilbert and team at the Oxford Jenner Institute and Oxford Vaccine Group have been nominated as global attention focuses on tackling the emergence of new COVID-19 variants.
The Oxford AstraZeneca vaccine is the only Western vaccine currently being sold at cost to the developing world, with the significant benefit of requiring less intense cold storage than its mRNA competitors. As of November 2021, two-thirds of the two billion doses of the Oxford AstraZeneca vaccine delivered worldwide were distributed to low and lower middle-income countries.
Over the past two decades from 2005 through 2021 Angela Merkel, as Germany’s first female Chancellor, has provided essential leadership to Germany and Europe as they traversed multiple crises. Her personal engagement and contributions helped stabilize the continent through the Eurozone crisis, Russia’s military intervention in Ukraine, the mass influx of refugees in the same year, US president Donald Trump’s disruption of transatlantic relations and, most relevantly for this year’s prize, the European Union (EU) economic and institutional response to the COVID-19 pandemic.
Nemonte Nenquimo has been recognised for her personal contributions in the battle to protect global biodiversity and against climate change. As leader of the Waorani from the Ecuadorean Amazon, she has helped protect 500,000 acres of rainforest from destruction. Her landmark court victory in 2019 for land rights over the Ecuadorian government has subsequently inspired other indigenous activists across South America to use legal routes to combat deforestation and habitat destruction.
The previous year’s Chatham House Prize went to Malawi’s constitutional court judges in recognition of their ‘courage and independence in the defence of democracy’. The 2019 Malawi presidential election result was overturned after a panel of five High Court judges identified ‘widespread, systematic, and grave irregularities’ in the polls and called for fresh elections.
The Chatham House Prize was launched in 2005. Previous recipients include Sir David Attenborough and BBC Studios Natural History Unit, the Committee to Protect Journalists, Colombian president Juan Manuel Santos, president of Ghana John Kufuor, Médecins Sans Frontières, and Melinda Gates as co-founder of the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation.