Greta Thunberg receives top human rights honour Amnesty International’s Ambassador of Conscience Award

Source: The West Australia / / By Miriam Fisher /

Teenage environmental activist Greta Thunberg and the Fridays for Future movement of school-children have been honoured with Amnesty International’s Ambassador of Conscience Award for 2019.

Inspired by 16 year-old Swedish activist Greta Thunberg, students take part in ‘climate strikes’ around the world, skipping school classes to protest on behalf of the environment and to demand concrete actions from politicians.

The 16-year-old activist achieved swift global fame last year when she skipped school to protest political inaction on climate change outside the Swedish parliament.

Greta’s heartfelt solo protest kicked off what has today become a viral school strike phenomenon, inspiring young people across the world to join her Fridays for Future or School Strike for Climate movement to push for serious change.

 The last co-ordinated protest took place on March 15, with about 1.6 million students from 125 countries — including tens of thousands across Australia — leaving empty classrooms in their wake to strike for climate.

Greta said she was humbled by the growth of the Fridays for Future movement and honoured to have received the prestigious award.

“This is not my award, this is everyone’s award. It is amazing to see the recognition we are getting and know that we are fighting for something that is having an impact,” she said.

“To act on your conscience means that you fight for what you think is right. I think all those who are part of this movement are doing that, because we have a duty to try and improve the world.”

Amnesty International Secretary General Kumi Naidoo said there was no better recipient of the top human rights honour.

“We are humbled and inspired by the determination with which youth activists across the world are challenging us all to confront the realities of the climate crisis,” said Mr Naidoo.

“Every young person taking part in Fridays for Future embodies what it means to act on your conscience.

“They remind us that we are more powerful than we know and that we all have a role to play in protecting human rights against climate catastrophe.”

The Ambassador of Conscience Award is Amnesty International’s highest honour, celebrating figureheads who have shown unique leadership and courage in standing up for human rights.

Previous Ambassador of Conscience Award winners

  • 2003 Vaclav Havel — former President of the Czech Republic
  • 2004 Mary Robinson — former President of Ireland and UN High Commissioner for Human Rights; Hilda Morales Trujillo — Guatemalan women’s rights activist
  • 2005 Irish rock band U2 and their manager Paul McGuinness
  • 2006 Nelson Mandela — former President of South Africa
  • 2008 Peter Gabriel — musician and humanitarian activist
  • 2009 Aung San Suu Kyi — leader of the Burmese National League for Democracy (the award was subsequently withdrawn in 2018)
  • 2013 Malala Yousafzai — student, blogger, activist; Harry Belafonte — American singer, human right and social justice activist
  • 2015 Joan Baez — American folk singer, songwriter and activist; Ai Weiwei — Chinese contemporary artist and activist
  • 2016 Angelique Kidjo — Beninese singer-songwriter; Lutte Pour Le Changement — a youth movement committed to peaceful protest in Goma; Le Balai Citoyen — a political grassroots movement in Burkina Faso; Y’en a Marre — a group of Senegalese rappers and journalists
  • 2017 Alicia Keys — American musician and activist; the movement for rights for indigenous people in Canada
  • 2018 Colin Kaepernick — former NFL quarterback and activist; kneeling protest at racial injustice