Press Release

The Alexander Soros Foundation Honors Activist Silas Kpanan’Ayoung Siakor

The Award for Extraordinary Achievement in Environmental and Human Rights Activism honors Siakor’s work ending destructive logging practices in Liberia

July 7, 2012

New York, NY – The Alexander Soros Foundation (ASF) today announced that Silas Kpanan’Ayoung Siakor is the winner of the inaugural Award for Extraordinary Achievement in Environmental and Human Rights Activism. The award honors Siakor’s brave and continuing work to protect Liberia’s embattled virgin forests and to end the human rights abuses that have accompanied their exploitation.

Siakor played a central role in stopping Charles Taylor, the former Liberian president, from using corrupt and destructive logging practices to fund Liberia’s civil war of the 1990s.

Often at great personal risk, Siakor spent years collecting evidence of illegal practices and human rights abuses in the Liberian logging industry as well as of the diversion of timber revenues to finance Taylor’s armed forces. On the basis of the evidence Siakor gathered, the United Nations Security Council put in place sanctions that banned the export of timber from Liberia. By starving President Taylor of funds, this helped end one of Africa’s bloodiest civil wars.

Siakor continues to work for social justice, human rights and the environment. As the Director of the Liberia-based Sustainable Development Institute from 2005 to 2009, he coordinated civil society’s input into Liberia’s forest reform process. In 2006 he was awarded the prestigious Goldman Environmental Prize. TIME Magazine chose him as one of the 2008 Heroes of the Environment.

Siakor is now working with communities to secure legal recognition and protection for their customary lands, and to resist large-scale land grabs for monoculture plantation development.

About The Alexander Soros Foundation

Founded in 2012, The Alexander Soros Foundation is an organization dedicated to promoting civil rights, social justice and education by making grants to cutting-edge organizations in the United States and abroad. For more information, please visit alexsoros.com.