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'Alternative Nobels' awarded to Congolese surgeon, Swiss pest control pioneer, and two others

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(AP Photo/Keystone,Walter Bieri)

(Read caption) Hans Rudolf Herren, Swiss entomologist, agriculture scientist and development specialist shows his foundation's flag in his office in Zurich, Switzerland, Thursday, Sept. 26, 2013. He was one of four winners of this year's Right Livelihood Awards.

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An American anti-chemical weapons advocate, a Palestinian human rights campaigner, a Congolese surgeon who helps wartime rape victims and a Swiss pioneer of pest control for sustainable agriculture have been named winners of this year's Right Livelihood Awards.

Paul Walker, the U.S. director of environmental security at Green Cross International, will share the 2 million Swedish kronor ($312,000) prize with Palestinian lawyer Raji Sourani, surgeon Denis Mukwege and Hans Rudolf Herren and the Biovision Foundation he founded 15 years ago. The prize is also known as the "alternative Nobels."

The awards jury on Thursday cited the 67-year-old Walker for "working tirelessly to rid the world of chemical weapons." It said since 1995, Walker has led the U.S. branch of an organization set up by former Soviet President Mikhail Gorbachev aimed at safely securing and eliminating nuclear, chemical, biological and conventional weapons globally. The jury said his leadership has helped eliminate more than 55,000 tons of chemical weapons.

Sourani, the first Palestinian to receive the award, was praised for defending and promoting human rights in Palestine and the Arab world for 35 years "under exceptionally difficult circumstances." As leader of the Arab Organization for Human Rights, Sourani organized the first fact-finding mission to Libya after the fall of dictator Moammar Gadhafi and has recently been training lawyers and human rights advocates in Syria.

Based in the Gaza Strip, the 59-year-old lawyer has been imprisoned several times by both Israel and the Palestinian Authority.

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