Petra Kelly

Awarded 1982


For forging and implementing a new vision uniting ecological concerns with disarmament, social justice and human rights.

Petra Karin Kelly (1947-1992) was one of the founders of Die Grünen in 1979, the German Green Party. She described it as “a non-violent ecological and basic-democratic anti-war coalition of parliamentary and extra-parliamentary grassroots oriented forces.”

As one of the party’s national chairpersons from 1980 to 1982, she achieved international renown, as the German Greens put environmental politics on the European political agenda in the early 1980s. In 1983 she was elected to the Bundestag, the German parliament, as one of 28 Green MPs and was speaker of the party’s parliamentary group until 1984. She was re-elected to the Bundestag in 1987, but her party was badly defeated three years later at the first elections of a reunited Germany, less than two years before her tragic death in 1992 at the age of 44. 

In a world struggling in violence and dishonesty, the further development of non-violence...becomes one of the most urgent priorities.

Petra Kelly, 1982 Laureate

In her international political work and public speaking, Kelly concentrated on the four themes closest to her heart: peace and non-violence, ecology, feminism and human rights, and the links between them. She believed in every citizen's right to civil disobedience and participated in many such actions worldwide. She used her status as the world's most famous 'Green' to bring her passionate concern for the rights of the victims of oppression and violence to the attention of everyone she met, from heads of government to groups of activists. In her last years, much of her indefatigable energy was taken up by the cause of Tibet - and, as always, the dangers of nuclear radiation.

Kelly also founded and chaired an association for the support of cancer research in children, a Europe-wide citizen group, founded after her sister Grace's death from cancer at the age of 10.

Kelly's first book, Fighting for Hope, was published in 1984 (in English by Chatto and Windus). She later wrote books on Hiroshima, childhood cancer and Tibet.


Culture and Education