The International Consortium of Investigative Journalists was awarded a prestigious honorary doctorate yesterday by the University of Liège in Belgium.
The recognition cited ICIJ’s work this year on the Offshore Leaks investigation, a global exposé of offshore tax evasion and financial secrecy that is believed to be the largest collaboration in journalism history. ICIJ was among six journalists, cartoonists and academics honored for their contributions to freedom of expression and open access to knowledge.
“We are delighted to be here and deeply grateful for this recognition,” said ICIJ director Gerard Ryle, who accepted the honor in Liège on ICIJ’s behalf. “This is a result of the hard work by ICIJ’s members around the world, and they should be taking a bow.”
Founded in 1817 following a decree by Napoleon a decade earlier, the University of Liège is one of Belgium’s oldest and most respected institutions.
Previous individuals awarded honorary degrees by the university include Nelson Mandela, Vaclav Havel and Salman Rushdie. A smaller number of organizations, including Amnesty International and Médecins Sans Frontières, have also received its honorary doctorate.
In a letter notifying ICIJ of its selection, University of Liège Rector Bernard Rentier cited “the rigorous, courageous and ethical manner in which you practice journalism” as criteria for the honor.
The others recognized at the ceremony yesterday included Peter Kroll, a cartoonist with Le Soir, Jean Plantureux ('Plantu') from Le Monde, and the Tunisian cartoonist Nadia Khiari.
ICIJ represented investigative journalism, along with the Kazakh journalist Lukpan Akhmediarov. The final recipient was Stevan Harnad, a professor of cognitive science at the University of Quebec.
Founded in 1997, ICIJ is an active global network of 175 reporters in more than 60 countries who collaborate on in-depth investigative projects. ICIJ focuses on issues that do not stop at national frontiers, such as cross-border crime, corruption and environmental threats.
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