The recipients of the 2023 Martin Henricksson Holmdahl Prize for Human Rights

The recipients with yellow flowers in their hands.

Andreas Tolf, Elisabeth Rynning och Brian Palmer were awarded for their efforts in the spirit of Martin H:son Holmdahl. Photo: Staffan Claesson

Four people are being recognised this year for their efforts related to human rights: Professor Emeritus Ove Bring (Stockholm University), Professor Elisabeth Rynning, Senior Lecturer Brian Palmer, and physician Andreas Tolf, a doctoral student at Uppsala University.

The prize is named after former Vice-Chancellor Martin Henricksson Holmdahl, who would have celebrated his 100th birthday this year.

“That alone is good reason to think broadly and draw attention to deeds that are in keeping with the spirit of Holmdahl’s legacy. This year also marks exactly 75 years since the UN Universal Declaration of Human Rights was adopted. It’s important to highlight that, as it’s played a major role in world politics,” says the Professor Peter Wallensteen, Chairman of the Prize Committee.

International law professor Ove Bring is being honoured for his major written work on the history of human rights and for recently publishing an incisive analysis of Russia’s war against Ukraine: “The Argument for the War of Aggression: The Art of Justifying Violence”. The Prize Committee opines that Bring’s many works and articles “contribute to deepening the understanding of the importance of rights for civilised order both within and between societies”. Ove Bring was previously Professor of International Law at Uppsala University.

He shares this year’s Holmdahl Prize with Professor Elisabeth Rynning, who is described as “a pioneer in medical law, a field she also helped establish as an area of study at Uppsala University”. Rynning has previously served as a justice of Sweden’s Supreme Administrative Court and Chief Parliamentary Ombudsman. Today she is President of the newly established Swedish Institute for Human Rights. The committee says that “as an academic teacher and legal official... she has contributed to the practical development of the field of human rights”.

In view of the anniversary, the Committee has also decided on two special commendations for efforts in the spirit of Martin Henricksson Holmdahl. Senior Lecturer Brian Palmer has demonstrated “a unique pedagogical ability” for explaining the importance of civil courage to generations of students. The physician and doctoral student Andreas Tolf is being recognised for his many years of chairmanship of Swedish Physicians Against Nuclear Weapons, an association that was close to Holmdahl’s heart.

Linda Koffmar

Subscribe to the Uppsala University newsletter