UBC backs out of Allard Prize, declines to say why

UBC has quietly withdrawn from its involvement with the Allard Prize for International Integrity without explanation.

The Allard Prize is awarded every other year to an individual, movement or organization dedicated to the fight against corruption and protection of human rights. At $100,000, it’s one of the world’s largest prizes for honouring advocates for transparency, accountability and the rule of law.

Earlier this month on the Allard Prize website, the school announced that it will be working with the Prize foundation in the next few months before its official withdrawal on June 21, 2019 to support a transition of the Prize.

The nomination period for this year’s prize closed in January.

The prize is administered through the Peter A. Allard School of Law at UBC. Three Allard professors on the prize’s selection committee, including Executive Director Nicole Barrett, declined to speak to The Ubyssey about why UBC withdrew from its involvement.

UBC Senior Director of Media Relations Kurt Heinrich told The Ubyssey that it “believes the Prize will be better served if it is independent of the university.”

In 2017, the prize was won by Khadija Ismayilova, an Azerbaijaini investigative journalist who was given a seven and a half year jail sentence in 2015 on trumped-up charges in retaliation for her damning reporting on corruption within the Azerbaijani government.

She was released in 2016 on probation after international outcry and in 2017 was involved in the Azerbaijan Laundromat investigation, exposing a slush fund used by government officials for bribery and personal benefit.

It’s unclear what the next steps are for the Prize foundation and whether they’ll be able to award the Allard Prize this year.

This article has been updated to correct a typo in Heinrich’s quote.