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This Impressive List of Judges Will Choose the Global Citizen Prize for World Leader Winner

Why Global Citizens Should Care
Global Citizen Prize honors leaders and activists across government, the arts and entertainment, business, philanthropy, and more, as well as among young people and Global Citizens. This year, we have faced unprecedented global challenges, and it’s more important than ever to celebrate those individuals dedicating their lives to uplifting their communities and even the world. Join the movement by taking action here.

Every year, the Global Citizen Prize for World Leader award honors a political figure who has used their influence to champion an end to extreme poverty and its systemic causes. This year, the award holds a special significance as the COVID-19 pandemic pushes more and more people into vulnerable situations. 

Each of the finalists for the 2020 Prize for World Leader has shown incredible leadership during a year filled with challenges, old and new. The all-woman lineup includes Chancellor of Germany, Angela Merkel; Managing Director of the International Monetary Fund (IMF), Kristalina Georgieva; President of the European Commission, Ursula von der Leyen; and Executive Director of UNAIDS, Winnie Byanyima.

Despite the impressive achievements of each finalist, only one of them will ultimately be named the winner on Dec. 15, and presented with their award during Global Citizen Prize, which will stream and broadcast globally from Dec. 19. You can find out how to watch wherever you are, here.

The final decision on who will win will be determined by a prize selection committee of more than 30 judges — including former heads of states and governments, other political leaders, and champions in the development community — who themselves uphold the ideals of a strong, effective world leader.

One of the committee members is former United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon. Through his term as leader of the UN, Ban pushed forward the international climate agenda and advocated consistently for women’s rights and gender equality.

“The world needs inclusive thought leadership that engages all groups of people in global conversations; leaders who have a multilateral mindset, and skills for conflict resolution, negotiation, and cooperation,” Ban said in a recent interview with Global Citizen.

Related Stories Dec. 10, 2020 14 Powerful Quotes From the 2020 Global Citizen Prize for World Leader Finalists

Other former and current UN representatives who are on the committee include Borge Brende, president of the World Economic Forum; Irina Bokova, former Director-General of UNESCO; and Eddie Ndopu, a South African activist who is one of the UN Secretary General’s 17 Advocates for the Global Goals.

Human rights lawyer and gender equality activist Trisha Shetty is another notable figure who is part of the selection committee. Besides working as the founder of Indian women’s rights organization SheSays, Shetty also serves as the president of the Steering Committee of the Paris Peace Forum.

Jeffrey Sachs, one of the leading experts on sustainable development and the fight against poverty, will also take part in choosing the winner of the Global Citizen Prize for World Leader. 

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As for the former heads of states who are on the judging panel, former Prime Minister of Australia Kevin Rudd and former President of Tanzania Jakaya Kikwete are in the mix. 

“Having been part of the political process myself, I know that it's rare that people will acknowledge the positive things that you do in public life,” Rudd said in a recent interview with Global Citizen. “I know from people who continue an active public political life that being acknowledged for what you are doing to positively turn the dial for all humanity's benefit actually helps. It helps psychologically to be recognized.”

These formidable judges have led admirable careers of their own in public service, making them well-equipped to choose the winner of the 2020 Global Citizen Prize for World Leader. The committee deliberates and gives careful consideration to all the nominees who embody the spirit of Global Citizens through their work, identity, and community collaborations. 

Here is a full list of the selection committee:


Paula J. Dobriansky, Senior Fellow, Harvard University, Belfer Center for Science and International Affairs, and former US Under Secretary of State for Global Affairs

Douglas Alexander, Senior Fellow, Harvard Kennedy School, and Chair of UNICEF UK

Heinz Fischer, former President of Austria

Kevin Rudd AC, former Prime Minister of Australia, and President of Asia Society Policy Institute

Mark Dybul, American diplomat, and former Executive Director of PEPFAR and The Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis, and Malaria

Joe Cerrell, Managing Director of Global Policy & Advocacy, Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation

Penny Abeywardena, Commissioner for International Affairs, New York City

Trisha Shetty, Indian activist for Gender Equity, Founder of SheSays, President of the Steering Committee of the Paris Peace Forum

Lilianne Ploumen, MP the Netherlands, former Minister of Development Cooperation and International Trade

Irina Bokova, Former Director-General of UNESCO

Miroslav Lajcak, EU Special Representative for Western Balkan, and former President of the UN General Assembly

Eddie Ndopu, award-winning activist, humanitarian, and the UN Secretary General’s Advocate for the Global Goals for Sustainable Development

Aigboje Aig-Imoukhuede, Chair of the African Initiative for Governance of Chairman Coronation Capital, and Chair of Global Citizen Nigeria

Vasu Gounden, Founder and Executive Director of ACCORD

David Donoghue, former Irish Ambassador to the UN and co-facilitator of 2030 Agenda 

Frederick Kempe, President and CEO of Atlantic Council

Jeff Sachs, Professor of Economics, Director of the Centre for Sustainable Development, Columbia University, and Director of the UN Sustainable Development Solutions Network

Jakaya Kikwete, former President of Tanzania

Alaa Murabit, SDG Advocate UN High-Level Commissioner

Ban Ki-moon, former UN Secretary-General

Joanna Roper, former Special Envoy for Gender Equality, HM Diplomatic Service, UK

Josette Sheeran, President and CEO of Asia Society Global, and UN Special Envoy for Haiti

Stephen Smith, University of Western Australia, Board Member, Perth USAsia Centre, and former Foreign Minister of Australia

Senait Fisseha, Director of International Programs, Susan Thompson Buffett Foundation and Chief Advisor to the Director-General of the World Health Organization

Jessica Stern, Executive Director, Outright Action International

Victor Madrigal-Borloz, UN Independent Expert on Sexual Orientation and Gender Identity

Mabel van Oranje-Nassau, Chair of Girls Not Brides, and Princess of Netherlands

Vanessa Moungar, Director for Gender, Women, and Civil Society for African Development Bank

Borge Brende, President of the World Economic Forum and former Foreign Minister of Norway

Muhammad Yunus, 2006 Nobel Peace Laureate, and  Founder of Grameen Bank

Vladimir Cuk, PhD.,  Executive Director of the International Disability Alliance


Join Global Citizen on December 19, 2020, to celebrate the leaders among us who have stepped up against a backdrop of unprecedented global challenges to take action for the world we want — a world that is fair, just, and equal.

The broadcast and digitally streamed award ceremony will also feature inspirational stories of human strength and unforgettable performances that will bring together artists, activists, and global leaders to remind each of us that, together, we will come out of this year stronger. Find out more about the Global Citizen Prize here.

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