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Photo: Antoine Tardy for the Freedom Cartoonists Foundation.

World Press Freedom Day: Honoring freedom of expression in the presence of Nobel laureates

On the occasion of World Press Freedom Day 2022, Ukrainian Vladimir Kazanevsky and Hungarian Gàbor Pàpai were announced as the Kofi Annan Courage in Cartooning Award winners at a ceremony at the Maison de la Paix in Geneva and presented by the Freedom Cartoonists Foundation.

Kofi Annan Courage in Cartooning Award 2022 winners Gàbor Pàpai and Vladimir Kazanevsky

The award, founded ten years ago and presented every two years in Geneva, changed its name this year (from The International Press Cartoon Prize) in tribute to Kofi Annan, Nobel Peace Prize laureate and founder of the Kofi Annan Foundation,

An international exhibition of nearly 60 press cartoons, including the 2022 Kofi Annan Courage in Cartooning Award winners, has been set up on Quai President Wilson along the lake in Geneva, Switzerland. The exhibition runs until May 31.

The inaugural Kofi Annan Courage in Cartooning Award was presented at a special event with two guests of honour, the 2021 Nobel Peace Prize laureates Maria Ressa, founder of the Rappler news website in the Philippines; and Dmitry Muratov, editor-in-chief of the independent Russian newspaper Novaya Gazeta.

“Sometimes words cannot depict the whole reality… sometimes cartoons are more effective. Kofi Annan believed in the power of cartoons to promote peace.”
– Corinne Momal-Vanian, Kofi Annan Foundation Executive Director

Further speakers on the day included Michelle Bachelet, United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights; Simonetta Sommaruga, Swiss Minister in charge of the media and former President of Switzerland; Sami Kanann, Geneva Minister for Culture and former Mayor; Patrick Chapatte, editorial cartoonist and President of the Freedom Cartoonists Foundation; and Corinne Momal-Vanian, Executive Director of the Kofi Annan Foundation.

From left: Nane Annan, Michael Moller, Maria Ressa, Dmitry Muratov, Corinne Momal-Vanian, Marie Heuze. ©Freedom Cartoonists – Antoine Tardy

The winners of the 2022 Kofi Annan Courage in Cartooning Award

Vladimir Kazanevsky

Putin as Chaplin-esque dictator (Vladimir Kazanevsky for the Nebelspalter)

Vladimir Kazanevsky, Ukraine’s leading cartoonist, was working in his studio early in the morning of 24 February when he heard loud explosions near the airport in Kyiv. He and his wife fled to western Ukraine, along with a huge wave of families fleeing the bombings. From there, they went to Presov, a town in Slovakia with a community of artists.

Vladimir Kazanevsky for the Nebelspeter

Deprived of his drawing materials, catalogues and books, which he had to leave behind in Kyiv, Kazanevsky continues to draw relentlessly: Putin in action, on a tank or the bow of the Titanic. “Autocrats and dictators are afraid of our cartoons, and they are right because our drawings are powerful weapons,” he says.

Fiercely determined to continue the fight against Russian aggression, the 71-year-old sees his work as an act of resistance – an act of defence of freedom of expression against war propaganda.

Vladimir Kazanevsky for the Nebelspeter


Gàbor Pàpai

For several years, Hungarian cartoonist Gàbor Pàpai and his newspaper Népszava – the only opposition daily still alive in Budapest – have been the subject of attacks and legal proceedings by the authorities – even though Hungary is part of the European Union.

Gabor Papai

Information warfare, simply war (Gábor Pápai for Népszava)

The Catholic religion, the fight against Covid or simply Hungarian history are all pretexts for prosecution in a country ranked 92nd in the world press freedom index by Reporters Without Borders (RSF). This ranking has deteriorated since Viktor Orbán became Prime Minister, putting all independent media in great difficulty. Some, like Népszava, are directly threatened with extinction. Gàbor Pàpai, far from being intimidated, continues to critically observe and draw all political actors in Hungary.

Two stone age majors (Gábor Pápai for Népszava, 2021)

About the Freedom Cartoonists Foundation and Cartoonists Rights Network International

The Freedom Cartoonists Foundation, formally the Swiss Foundation Cartooning for Peace, was founded in 2010 in Geneva by Marie Heuze, former UN communication director and cartoonists Plantu and Chappatte. Its mission is to defend freedom of expression in a spirit of dialogue. It has delivered a biennial International Cartooning Award jointly with the city of Geneva since 2012. The late Kofi Annan, former UN Secretary-General and recipient of the 2001 Nobel Peace Prize, was its Honorary Chairperson and a dedicated advocate for cartoonists. The new award is named in his honour.

Cartoonists Rights Network International is an NGO based in the USA and incorporated in 1999; its award is named for its founder Dr Robert ‘Bro’ Russell.