The Nobel Peace Prize for 1981
UNHCR has provided international protection for refugees by maintaining their right of asylum and seeking to prevent any forced return to the country from which they have fled. By awarding the prize to UNHCR the Nobel Committee praised the humanitarian and diplomatic activities by the UN agency: "The stream of refugees (...) creates serious problems in relations between states, and for this reason the activities of the Office of the High Commissioner serve the interest of humanity and peace as well."
Poul Hartling: "Let us never cease to feel compassion for those in want. Let us never tire of helping the victims of injustice and oppression"
The Committee thanked the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees for all it has done for countless refugees and expressed the hope the organization will continue its work in the troubled times that may lie ahead. "The establishment of the Office of the High Commissioner for Refugees was based on respect for human rights. It is on this basis that we must seek to find answers to the refugee problems of our age, both on the national and international plane." "We have a duty to the refugees, and this is a duty to ourselves and the very basis of our own existence."
In his Nobel Lecture, the High Commissioner Poul Hartling said, “I appeal to each and everyone. Let us never cease to feel compassion for those in want. Let us never tire of helping the victims of injustice and oppression. He who puts his faith in the restoration of human dignity cannot be wrong”.