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Oświęcim Award for Human Rights of John Paul II

The Oświęcim Award for Human Rights of John Paul II was established to pay tribute to the Pope's role as a great advocate of human rights as a basis for the "civilization of love and solidarity". It aims to promote the values which are universal in the modern-day world, such as the unalienable dignity of every human being, truth, good and beauty. The words of the Auschwitz martyr, Saint Maximilian Kolbe that "only love is creative" are the motto of the Award.  

The name "Oświęcim" (the Polish town where the German concentration camp Auschwitz was located) and the words of St. Maximilian as a motto are a clear reference to the reality of Auschwitz: a place of planned annihilation of human and humanity, one of the supreme symbols of 20th century totalitarianisms. At the same time, Auschwitz shows that human dignity is inalienable and impossible to destroy by any system and by any hatred. This human dignity, rooted in the spiritual nature of human being is the source of what we call human rights. The memory of the tragedy of Auschwitz cannot be thus directed solely towards the past. On the contrary, it serves as an ever-relevant "examination of the conscience of mankind".

The Award serves as a means to creatively develop the Oświęcim legacy of John Paul II. It aims at reviving the reflection upon the idea of human rights. This is also important because of the tendency to distort this idea, which may lead to the instrumental treatment of human beings and their subordination to the political and economic goals, the phenomenon especially strongly present in the modern western civilization within the area of legislation. Hence, it is important not to use human rights as a means of imposing the will of the minority and an instrument of social engineering. On the other hand, each human right is, in practice, limited by other human rights, which makes social compromise necessary and encourages people who think differently to meet and talk. Yet, this always has to be a meeting of truth and respect, a meeting oriented towards values. From this historic, ethical, and anthropological perspective the real goal of the Award emerges: to pay tribute to the people whose life and activity have proved that this is the real sense of human rights. 

The contest is organized by the Board of Trustees of the Oświęcim Award for Human Rights of John Paul II. The organizational service of the Award is provided by the organization office with Krzysztof Mazur as the Secretary of the Award, e-mail:

Rules and regulations

Rules governing the selection of winners

Winners from previous years