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Moore Prize for Human Rights Writing 2023 – The Winners

The Christopher G. Moore Foundation is delighted to announce the 2023 winner of their seventh annual literary prize honouring books that feature human rights themes. 

Belly Woman: Birth, Blood & Ebola – The Untold Story by Benjamin Black (Neem Tree Press) has been chosen as the best book with a human rights theme, published between 1 July, 2022 and 30 June 2023. 

The 2023 jury, comprised of Dr Jackie Dugard, senior lecturer of Human Rights at Columbia University; Roja Fazaeli, Professor in Law and Islamic Studies, University of Galway; and human rights barrister, academic, author and broadcaster, Geoffrey Robertson, KC, were unanimous in their choice. 

Belly Woman is a unique work combining investigative reporting and advocacy. A young doctor’s harrowing account of his experience in helping pregnant women give birth during an Ebola epidemic and Covid-19 pandemic. His book is set in Sierra Leone, 2014-2020. In 2014, when the author arrived, Sierra Leone was ranked the country with the highest death rate of pregnant women in the world. Dr. Black was forced to make impossible decisions on the maternity ward, facing moral dilemmas in the treatment centres , Belly Woman shines a light on an important story that has rarely surfaced on the literary radar screen. 

Author Benjamin Oren Black is a consultant obstetrician and gynaecologist in London and a specialist advisor to international aid organisations. Benjamin also teaches medical teams around the world on improving sexual and reproductive healthcare to the most vulnerable people in the most challenging of circumstances. 

The Jury commented: The winner, Belly Woman, was an extraordinary book on many levels. In telling the story of the Ebola and Covid crises in Sierra Leone, Black wrote in a moving way about its victims, highlighting the voices of women, giving them agency. Their stories were interwoven to powerfully illustrate how a doctor in the field can practice medicine in ways that guide the advancement of global health and human rights. On a different level, he also showed the disparities between the global north and south through a human rights lens, reminding us that these health crises are not a new phenomenon, and that the international community has repeatedly been incapable of protecting human rights.” 

Faced with a record number of high quality submissions and a remarkable shortlist, the Jury would like to recognise the other final contenders for the prize. 

An Honourable Mention goes to Antony Loewenstein for The Palestine Laboratory: How Israel Exports the Technology of Occupation Around the World (Verso Books). Loewenstein’s exposé documents the role of Israel’s military-industrial complex in the Occupied Palestinian Territories, where they tested weaponry and surveillance technology. Having shown live data as to effectiveness, they exported this technology around the world, to despots and democracies alike. It is an important and powerful piece of on the ground reporting combined with extensive research about the world’s most dangerous region. 

The Jury and the Moore Foundation Trustees would also like to recognise a remarkable book, written by a 12-year-old refugee from Ukraine, with a Special Prize for Young AuthorsYou Don’t Know What War Is: The Diary of a Young Girl from Ukraine by Yeva Skalietska (Bloomsbury Children’s Books). 

Yeva’s moving diary, written daily as she lived through the first 12 days after the Russian invasion, poignantly illustrates how the war changed her young life forever. Writing for children her own age, Yeva’s book exhibits a maturity of thought and writing ability that is far beyond her years, displaying 

The Jury said: We are delighted to recognise Yeva’s extraordinary book by awarding this Special Prize for Young Writers. Her story is universal, one that applies as much to Gaza or any war, as it does to what’s happening in Ukraine. It is an extremely poignant, relevant book, written in a way that personalises the conflict – as Yeva and her family faced the terror of fleeing and sheltering from the bombing. We enter her world from a child’s point of view, a world of school, friends and family. You Don’t Know What War Is is a book that should be read and discussed by anyone who is interested in understanding the personal cost of current or future conflicts.”

Foundation Founder, Christopher G. Moore says: The quality of submissions for the Prize was very high this year. The judges faced a challenging task to choose a winning title. The human rights books on the shortlist ranged from the Sierra Leone and Israel, to Ukraine and the Amazon rainforest, with books about climate change, war, refugees and human trafficking. The three books we honour this year will broaden your understanding about the state of millions of people around the world who find their lives and liberty in jeopardy. Each one of them details the emotional struggle people face in their struggle to survive some of the worst human conditions: slavery, torture, disease and corruption. If you value freedom of thought, movement or security, you will gain from reading these books.” 

The Moore Prize was established in 2015 to provide funds and recognition to authors who, through their work, contribute to the universality of human rights and to give a platform to human rights issues that are important in our current societies. This unique initiative is awarded annually, as chosen by a panel of judges whose own work focuses on human rights. 

For more information about these books please visit the Moore Foundation website: www.cgmoorefoundation.org 

Contacts: For all media inquiries please contact Foundation Director, Daniel Vaver: 
dv@cgmoorefoundation.org 
and Trustee, Adrienne Loftus Parkins: 
alp@cgmoorefoundation.org

The Christopher G. Moore Foundation and Moore Prize are named after Christopher G. Moore, the Canadian novelist and essayist. The Christopher G. Moore Foundation is a registered UK charity dedicated to supporting authors who promote human rights and monitor its infringements. 

Dr Jackie Dugard is a senior lecturer in the discipline of Human Rights at the Institute for the Study of Human Rights and the Department of Political Science, Columbia University. Prior to this, Jackie was an Associate Professor in the School of Law at the University of the Witwatersrand, where she is now a Visiting Professor. She was a co-founder and the first Executive Director of the non-governmental organisation, Socio-Economic Rights Institute of South Africa and the founding first Director of the Gender Equality Office at Witwatersrand. She is a Global Fellow at the Centre on Law and Social Transformation (U of Bergen, Norway), an Associate Senior Researcher at the Chr. Michelsen Institute and an Affiliate at the Centre for Human Rights and Global Justice at New York University’s School of Law. 

Roja Fazaeli has recently been appointed Established Professor in Law and Islamic Studies, the Irish Centre for Human Rights, School of Law at University of Galway. Previously she was Professor in Islamic Civilisations and a Fellow of Trinity College Dublin. feminisms, women religious authorities, woman’s rights in Iran and the relationship between human Roja has published widely on the subjects of Islamic rights and religion. She is currently the chairperson of the board of directors of the Immigrant Council of Ireland and a member of the board of directors of Front Line Defenders, Scholars at Risk Europe and Iran Academia. Roja has been the Scholars at Risk representative at Trinity College since 2009 and was previously on the boards of the Irish Refugee Council, Azadi Andisheh (the Association for Freedom of Thought) and Amnesty International Ireland. 

Geoffrey Robertson KC has had a distinguished career as a trial counsel and human rights advocate. He has been a United Nations war crimes judge, a counsel in many notable trials, has defended hundreds of people facing death sentences in the Caribbean and has won landmark ruling on civil liberty from the highest courts in Britain, Europe and the Commonwealth. He is founder and joint head of Doughty Street Chambers, the largest human rights practice in Europe, a Master of the Middle Temple and a visiting professor at the New College of Humanities in London. 

Adrienne Loftus Parkins is a Trustee of the Foundation and will act as an advisor and planner for the 2023 judging panel. Her vast experience includes being the Chief Judge of the Moore Prize 2021 judging panel. Adrienne is also the founder and former director of the Asia House Festival of Asian Literature, where she focused on promoting contemporary pan-Asian writing and championing emerging Asian/British Asian writers throughout the UK. She founded/co-founded several other literary organisations, including The Asian Word and M Fest – Festival of Muslim Culture and Ideas and consults on literary festivals and prizes internationally. 

Christopher G. Moore is a Canadian author whose writing is focused on Southeast Asia. Best known for his Vincent Calvino series of 17 crime novels in which human rights issues are explored. Moore has also written non-fiction books and edited anthologies of essays discussing human rights, freedom of speech and censorship. 

The Foundation Trustees are Daniel Vaver, Christopher G. Moore, Adrienne Loftus Parkins and Busakorn Suriyasarn.
Christopher G. Moore,
 a Canadian novelist and essayist, living in Bangkok, is CrimeMag’s South East Asia correspondent and the author of the award-winning Vincent Calvino series and a number of literary novels and non-fiction books. His books have been translated into 13 languages. The Christopher G. Moore Foundation is awarding a literary prize for a work of non-fiction, which advances understanding of human rights and freedom of Expression.

A (German) review of his novel „Springer“ (Jumpers) here.
„Bloody Questions“ from Marcus Muentefering here.
His essays with CrimeMag here.
His website here.
2024 will see a new Vincent Calvino novel.

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