The Inamori International Center for Ethics and Excellence at Case Western Reserve University will award Myroslava Gongadze, a journalist and free-press and human rights advocate, with the 2023 Inamori Ethics Prize.
“Ms. Gongadze is a journalist of tremendous integrity,” said Case Western Reserve President Eric W. Kaler. “Her commitment to upholding justice and ensuring civil liberties—for people in Ukraine and around the world—and her persistent efforts to seek and speak the truth are an inspiration.”
The Inamori Ethics Prize has been awarded since 2008 to honor outstanding international ethical leaders whose actions and influence have greatly improved the condition of humankind. Gongadze will receive the prize, deliver a free public lecture about her work and participate in an academic symposium and panel discussion during Inamori Center events Sept. 21-22 on the Case Western Reserve campus.
Taking an active interest in civic law and legal matters, Gongadze, who was born in Ukraine, attended the Ivan Franko National University of Lviv and earned a master’s degree in civic law. In the late 1990s, she collaborated with her husband and fellow journalist, Georgiy Gongadze, in publications opposing the administration of Ukrainian President Leonid Kuchma. In 2000, soon after establishing the first—and now most popular—online publication in Ukraine, Ukrainian Truth, Georgiy Gongadze was kidnapped and murdered in a plot that directly implicated Kuchma’s administration.
Myroslava Gongadze’s vocal opposition to the authoritarian nature of the administration and the controversy resulting from this tragic crime were major catalysts to the Orange Revolution of 2004. As a result of this three-month protest, the rigged vote was declared void and new elections were held, which were judged to be free and fair by international observers.
“Gongadze’s efforts and advocacy to find justice for her husband and for freedom in Ukraine demonstrate her leadership and influence as a free-press and human-rights advocate,” said Ben Vinson III, Case Western Reserve provost and executive vice president.
Gongadze has continued to demand justice for her late husband and for justice and the role of law in Ukraine. In 2002, Gongadze filed a complaint with the European Court of Human Rights against President Leonid Kuchma’s government, contending her husband’s death was the result of forced disappearance and that the Ukrainian authorities failed to protect him.
Gongadze also maintained that the atmosphere of fear and uncertainty and the incomplete and contradictory information provided during the investigation forced her to leave the country and caused her suffering. She won this case, and the European Court of Human Rights concluded that the domestic investigation was corrupt and violated international human rights laws. The case became a precedent and path for many Ukrainians who couldn’t find justice in their homeland.
Following her husband’s murder, Gongadze and their children received asylum in the United States in 2001. She has continued to demonstrate global ethical leadership in journalism as a television and radio correspondent for Voice of America (VOA) since 2004; a correspondent for Radio Free Europe; as well as a visiting Scholar at George Washington University and Fellow at Harvard University.
Since 2015, Gongadze, who now lives in Washington, D.C., but frequently travels to Europe, has been the head of Ukrainian Service at VOA, interviewing such critical political figures as U.S. Secretary of State Anthony Blinken, Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy and many other government and political world leaders. Before she joined VOA, it offered one 20-minute broadcast per week for the Ukrainian audience. Now, it features a live show daily and special in-depth reports. Today, VOA is widely considered the most trusted news in Ukraine, watched by 5 million viewers—roughly 10% of the Ukrainian population.
In 2022, VOA named Gongadze the network’s first Eastern Europe Chief. She is now temporarily in Europe, leading expanded coverage of a region threatened by hybrid war and disinformation. Despite the danger of visiting an active war zone, she frequently visits Ukraine, covering the brutal Russian invasion of her native country.
“A key goal of awarding this prize is to show people what ethical leadership on a global scale looks like in a wide range of fields,” said Shannon E. French, Inamori Professor in Ethics and director of the Inamori Center. “Myroslava Gongadze is our first honoree for ethical leadership in journalism, and we couldn’t be more thrilled. Now is the perfect moment to remind everyone of the vital importance of journalistic integrity and a free press.”
Previous Inamori Ethics Prize winners:
- 2008: Dr. Francis Collins (USA), physician, geneticist, former director of the NIH
- 2009: The Honorable Mary Robinson (Ireland), Elder, humanitarian, and former President of Ireland
- 2010: Stan Brock (UK), philanthropist and founder of Remote Area Medical (now deceased)
- 2011: Advocate Beatrice Mtetwa (Zimbabwe), lawyer, human rights and press freedom activist
- 2012: Dr. David Suzuki (Canada), academic environmentalist, scientist, and broadcaster
- 2013: Yvon Chouinard (USA), corporate social responsibility entrepreneur, environmentalist
- 2014: Dr. Denis Mukwege (Democratic Republic of the Congo), physician, advocate against sexual violence, 2018 Nobel Peace Prize recipient
- 2015: Prof. Martha Nussbaum (USA), ethics scholar and UN advisor philosopher, professor, author, board member of the Human Rights Program
- 2016: Prof. Peter Eigen (Germany), lawyer, economist, anti-corruption pioneer and founder of Transparency International
- 2017: Marian Wright Edelman (USA), founder of the Children’s Defense Fund, civil rights activist
- 2018: Dr. Farouk El-Baz (Egypt and USA), NASA Apollo program scientist and conservationist
- 2019: Mr. LeVar Burton (Germany and USA), creative arts, literacy, and HIV/AIDS advocate
- 2020-21: Conversations on JUSTICE (a series of virtual events featuring former prize-winners during the height of the pandemic)
- 2020, awarded in 2021: Judge Silvia Fernández de Gurmendi (Argentina), international human rights expert, diplomat, judge, and former president of the International Criminal Court
- 2022-23: Conversations on JUSTICE: Inequities in Healthcare (in honor of the late Dr. Paul Farmer)
For more information, contact Bill Lubinger at firstname.lastname@example.org.
This article was originally published Feb. 15, 2023.