Peace Prize of the German Book Trade: The Awardee 2020 is Amartya Sen (PRESS RELEASE)

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Statement of the Jury

The German Publishers and Booksellers Association hereby awards the 2020 Peace Prize of the German Book Trade to the economist and philosopher Amartya Sen. In doing so, the association and its members have chosen to pay tribute to a pioneering scholar who has addressed issues of global justice for decades and whose work to combat social inequality in education and healthcare is as relevant today as ever. Among Sen’s most important contributions is the idea of evaluating a society’s wealth not solely based on economic growth indices, but also on the opportunities for development available to all individuals who comprise that society, in particular its weakest members.

Throughout his work, Amartya Sen has consistently highlighted solidarity and a willingness to negotiate as essential democratic values, proving in the process that cultures need not be the source of disputes over identity. His vivid and powerful descriptions have also served to elucidate the fundamental ways in which poverty, hunger and illness are intimately linked to the absence of free and democratic structures. The »Human Development Index«, the »capabilities approach« and the notion of »missing women« are just three of his groundbreaking concepts that continue to set high standards to this day with regard to generating, preserving and evaluating equal opportunities and decent living conditions for all.

Amartya Sen’s inspiring oeuvre represents a compelling call to establish a culture of political decision-making borne by a sense of responsibility for the well-being of others, including the right to self-determination and the right to articulate one’s interests and have a say in one’s own future.


The freedom of choice gives us the opportunity to decide what we should do. (Amartya Sen,"The Idea of Justice")


Amartya Kumar Sen was born on 3 November 1933 in Santiniketan, India. He is currently the Thomas W. Lamont University Professor, and professor of economics and philosophy at Harvard University. For many decades, Sen’s multifaceted and award-winning scholarly work has contributed unmatched insights and impulses to a number of fields, including welfare economics, social choice theory, decision theory, studies in hunger and poverty, and development economics. As an economist-philosopher whose research areas include public health and gender studies, he has also worked tirelessly for the cause of democracy, freedom and global justice. In 1998, he was awarded the Nobel Prize for Economics. In 2020, Amartya Sen, one of the most important thinkers of our time, will receive the Peace Prize of the German Book Trade.

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The terrible connection between economic poverty and comprehensive unfreedom (even the lack of freedom to live) was a profoundly shocking realization that hit my young mind with overpowering force. (Amartya Sen in "Identity and Violence" about his childhood experience during the clashes between Hindus and Muslims in 1944)


2020 Peace Prize of the German Book Trade
2019 Bodley Medal, Oxford, UK
2017 Albert O. Hirschman Prize, Institute for Advanced Study
2017 Johan Skytte Prize in Political Science, Oslo, Norway
2016 Social Progress Medal, France
2015 Honorary Member of the Japan Academy
2015 John Maynard Keynes Prize, U.K.

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Nothing, arguably, is as important today in the political economy of development as adequate recognition of political, economic appreciation of political, economic and social participation and leadership of women. (Amartya Sen in "Development as Freedom.")

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