VATICAN CITY - His Holiness Pope Francis, head of the Catholic Church, received the 2023 Zayed Award for Human Fraternity judging committee at the Vatican on Tuesday to discuss the significance of the award in promoting human fraternity on a global scale, including the protection of women’s rights.

Pope Francis, a 2019 honorary recipient of the award, told the six judging committee members, “Your work is important in advancing the message of human fraternity.”

“It is important in your work to uphold the dignity of women as women’s rights are often outlined on paper but not practised in reality,” said Pope Francis, who also highlighted the ongoing crisis in Haiti, urging the international community to support the country. Haitian organisation, Foundation for Knowledge and Liberty (FOKAL) was awarded the Zayed Award for Human Fraternity in 2022.

The judging committee members expressed their appreciation for Pope Francis’ co-signing of the historic Document on Human Fraternity in 2019 alongside His Eminence Dr. Ahmed el-Tayeb, the Grand Imam of Al-Azhar and Chairman of the Muslim Council of Elders, in Abu Dhabi. The members shared how each of them, in their respective fields, uphold the Document on Human Fraternity’s principles.

The members affirmed that the values outlined in the document would serve as a source of guidance during their ongoing selection process of the honouree(s) for the fourth edition of the Zayed Award.

The members of the independent judging committee are United Nations Under-Secretary-General and High Representative for the Alliance of Civilisations, Miguel Ángel Moratinos; former Vice President of Costa Rica, Dr. Epsy Campbell Barr; Pro-Prefect of the Dicastery for Evangelisation at the Holy See, His Eminence Cardinal Luis Antonio Tagle; 2014 Nobel Peace Laureate and child rights activist, Kailash Satyarthi; 2015 Nobel Peace Laureate and entrepreneur, Dr. Ouided Bouchamaoui, and Zayed Award for Human Fraternity Secretary-General and Muslim Council of Elders Secretary-General, Judge Mohamed Abdelsalam.

On behalf of the committee, Judge Abdelsalam said, “We are extremely grateful to His Holiness Pope Francis for his continued support of the Zayed Award for Human Fraternity. His Holiness presents a real and unique example of a man of peace and continues to bring people together from different walks of life, with the feeling that we are all members of the same human family.”

Moratinos stated, “It is a great honour and privilege to be part of this important jury. Fraternity guides our respect and understanding of each other. Today we will find an honouree shining with the values and principles outlined in the Document on Human Fraternity, able to practically implement their vision, and to give people hope.”

Cardinal Tagle said, “With our work at the judging committee, we aim to support this mission and recognise that the only way to ensure a brighter and more peaceful future is to demonstrate and support solidarity, coexistence, and respect for one another. The award represents an important platform to support these values.”

Dr. Campbell Barr commented, “There are many challenges facing our world, but this award is a source of inspiration. It highlights and supports the people fighting against discrimination while working towards peace and fraternity. We have most recently seen the impact of this award in Haiti, where our sisters in FOKAL continue to create a just, equitable environment for the women and youth. The award is a source of inspiration to support women’s rights.”

Kailash Satyarthi remarked, "This award reaffirms the message that hope, truth, peace and love will always prevail against hatred. The honourees show us how we can learn to walk together in the world, speaking out for the most vulnerable in our communities, especially children, and deepening the values of human fraternity.

Dr. Bouchamaoui added, “I am proud as a woman to be part of this award’s jury. It is an award won by several female human fraternity pioneers. They are proof that women can instil peace in the world.”

The Zayed Award for Human Fraternity is an annual independent and international award recognising people and entities of all backgrounds, anywhere in the world, who are working selflessly and tirelessly across divides to strengthen real human connection and spearhead breakthroughs towards peaceful coexistence.

The award was launched in 2019 to mark the historic meeting in Abu Dhabi between Pope Francis and Dr. El-Tayeb, during which they co-signed the Document on Human Fraternity. The award is instituted in honour of the late Sheikh Zayed bin Sultan Al Nahyan, Founder of the UAE, renowned for his humanitarianism and dedication to helping people no matter their background.
Previous award honourees include Pope Francis and the Dr. El-Tayeb (honorary recipients) in 2019; United Nations Secretary-General, António Guterres and Moroccan French activist against extremism, Latifa Ibn Ziaten in 2021; Their Majesties King Abdullah II ibn Al Hussein and Queen Rania Al Abdullah of the Hashemite Kingdom of Jordan, and Haitian humanitarian organisation, the Foundation for Knowledge and Liberty (FOKAL) in 2022.

The judging committee is in Rome to continue its deliberations on the 2023 award honouree(s) – to be announced next month.

The honouree(s) will be awarded US$1 million in support of their efforts and for continuing their work in advancing human fraternity, collaborating across divides, and driving real progress.