During his career Jan Egeland dedicated himself to humanitarian needs and furthering conditions that are essential for human liberty. His career has successfully shown the effectiveness of both the United Nations and humanitarianism.
Born in Stavanger, Norway in 1957,Jan Egelandbegan his humanitarian career at the age of 15, when he organized a chapter for Amnesty International in his native Norway. He became Chair of Amnesty International in his own country and at the age of 23 he found himself elected as Vice-Chair of the International Executive Committee of Amnesty International, the youngest person ever to hold this position.Jan Egelandholds an M.A. in Political Science from the University of Oslo, has been a Fulbright Scholar at the University of California, and has participated as a fellow at several peace research institutes.
Jan Egelandwas active in the Norwegian government as State Secretary at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs from 1990-1997, during which time he initiated programs for training experts for emergency preparedness. This initiative has channeled more than 2,000 specialists and humanitarian workers into working for international organizations. Egeland has also been Director of the Norwegian Red Cross and an international news reporter for radio and television broadcasts of the Norwegian Broadcasting Cooperation.
Egeland was an active participant in a number of peace processes in the 1990s. He co-organized the Norwegian channel between Israel and the Palestine Liberation Organization in 1992, which led to the Oslo Accords. In 1996 he directed the Norwegian facilitation of the United Nations-led peace talks that led up to the ceasefire agreement ending the bitter, long-running civil war in Guatemala. In 1997 Egeland also helped prepare and adopt the Ottawa treaty, banning landmines.
Continuing his career at the United Nations,Jan Egelandwas the United Nations Secretary-General’s Special Adviser for Colombia from 1999-2002 and functioned as the UN Undersecretary-General for Humanitarian Affairs and Emergency Relief between June 2003 and December 2006.Jan Egelandhas contributed greatly to provoking the world’s conscience concerning humanitarian affairs, including the atrocities in Darfur. In 2007, he was appointed by Ban Ki-Moon as his Special Adviser, for he believes that the Norwegian will be able to draw on his rich experience in peace processes and humanitarian operations to achieve further success in this difficult field.
The Freedom from Want Award is awarded to Jan Egeland in honor of his extraordinary efforts to create a more humane world for the afflicted, suffering and displaced people, and for his contribution towards improving the living conditions of millions of people.