(January 2021)



In January 2012, the Quetzal Prize for Human Rights and Democracy in Guatemala was created by non-profit organization Guatebelga. This non-profit association under Belgian law (statutes in B.S. 15/1/2002) was founded in 2001 to promote democracy and human rights in Guatemala and to take action against impunity for human rights violations in the country. Furthermore, it aims to support in particular the legal cases related to the murder and disappearance of respectively Walter Voordeckers, Ward Capiau and Serge Berten. More information can be found at:


The general objective of the Quetzal Prize is to promote respect for human rights and democracy in Guatemala. In particular, this prize focuses on initiatives and individuals who fight impunity, deepen the culture of human rights, and encourage forms of responsible, democratic governance.

Human Rights

We understand ‘human rights’ in the broad sense, namely the classical rights such as the right to freedom of expression and association, the right to live in freedom and security, the right not to be tortured, as much as the social and economic rights such as the right to healthy food, a healthy living environment, housing, education and health care. These rights apply to everyone, regardless of age, gender, ethnicity, colour, religion or language. These rights also apply in all situations, such as periods of emergency or armed conflict.


For whom and what price?

Article 1) The Quetzal Prize is awarded to individuals or organizations or institutions that make an outstanding contribution to the promotion of human rights and democracy in Guatemala.

Neither the nominees nor the nominating organizations need to live in Guatemala or have Guatemalan nationality.

The Quetzal Prize consists of a work of art and a financial recognition.


Article 2) The Quetzal Prize has been awarded on a biennial basis since 2013, always during the third week of October, in memory of the murder of Ward Capiau, on October 22, 1981 in Guatemala.

The call for a new Quetzal Prize is launched by the non-profit organization Guatebelga in the third week of January following the previous ceremony. This in memory of the violent kidnapping of Serge Berten, missionary of Scheut, on January 19, 1982 in Guatemala City.


Nominations and criteria

Article 3) Each person, organization or institution, can nominate one candidate per round of the Quetzal Prize. Members of the jury and members of the non-profit organization Guatebelga cannot be nominated and cannot propose candidates. This restriction ceases as soon as the jury member or member resigns.

Article 4) Nominations shall be submitted in English or Spanish, no later than December 31 of the year preceding the award ceremony.

Article 5) The method of submission of nominations shall be determined by the assembly of the non-profit organization Guatebelga during the month of January of the year in which the award ceremony takes place.

Article 6) Candidates cannot be nominated for the Quetzal Prize more than three times.

Article 7) Laureates of the Quetzal Prize may not be nominated again as candidates.

Article 8) At least half of the nominees must be new candidates.

Article 9) The nominating person or organization shall notify the nominee of the nomination in a verifiable manner. The nominee also verifiably confirms to the nominating organization or person his/her acceptance of the nomination.

Article 10) The members of the non-profit organization Guatebelga decide in a meeting on the admissibility of the nominations, based on an internal checklist of criteria.

Non-profit association Guatebelga always has the possibility of rejecting a nomination.

Nominations must obligatorily contain the following elements:

– If it concerns a natural person: a curriculum vitae of the nominee with contact details and a description of his/her activity or commitment

– If it concerns an organization or institution: a detailed description of objectives and operation, and contact details of the nominated organization

– A signed cover letter with contact details in which the nominating person or organization describes the reasons for the nomination

– The nominee’s written confirmation to the nominating person or organization about the acceptance of his/her nomination

Nominations may also contain the following:

– Any additional information that may be useful to provide the jury with a better picture of the nominee’s contribution.

Selection by the jury

Article 11) All nominations will be evaluated by an international jury composed by the assembly of members of the non-profit association Guatebelga. Members of Guatebelga cannot be members of the jury.

The jury is appointed before the nominees are announced on January 19 of the year in which the Quetzal Prize is awarded.

Article 12) At the latest on February 1 of the same year, the chairperson of the jury receives the nominations from the secretariat of the non-profit organization Guatebelga.

Article 13) The jury selects independently and by consensus the laureate of the Quetzal Prize, in accordance with the objectives of the prize, and motivates its decision in writing (merits).

Article 14) The president of the jury shall communicate its decision with a written motivation to Guatebelga at the latest on May 5.


Article 15) The secretariat of Guatebelga shall inform all nominating organizations or persons of the decision of the jury in the week following May 5.

The nominating organization or person shall inform the laureate in a verifiable manner in the course of that same week, and shall also undertake to include Guatebelga in its communications with the laureate.

Article 16) The non-profit organization Guatebelga will announce the laureate of the Quetzal Prize to the public on May 12 of the year of the award, in memory of the murder of Walter Voordeckers, missionary of Scheut, on May 12, 1980 in Santa Lucia Cotzumalguapa, Guatemala.

Award Ceremony

Article 17) The non-profit organization Guatebelga organizes the prize ceremony with a partner that subscribes to the objectives of the prize.

Article 18) Guatebelga invites the laureate or his/her representative to Belgium to receive the prize at an official ceremony.

Guatebelga will cover the travel expenses of the laureate and take responsibility for the financing of the work of art and the cash prize.


Article 19) The Dutch text of these rules is the original text and the only one legally valid.

The Belgian law is applicable.

The courts of Antwerp have jurisdiction.