Gino Strada, the co-founder of Emergency, was commended for his “great humanity and skill in providing outstanding medical and surgical services to the victims of conflict and injustice, while fearlessly addressing the causes of war.”
The 67-year-old’s charity has operated across more than a dozen war-torn countries, including Iraq, Afghanistan, Sudan, Sierra Leone, Cambodia and the Central African Republic.
Dr Strada, from Milan, founded Emergency with his wife, Teresa Sarti, who died in 2009.
He shared the prize with two other laureates: Ugandan activist Kasha Jacqueline Nabageserales, who fights for the rights of lesbian, gay, bisexual, transsexual and intersexual (LGBTI) communities, and Sheila Watt-Cloutier, an Inuit and Arctic activist from Canada.
The three laureates will share the €320,000 prize sum.
Meanwhile, the foreign minister of the Marshall Islands, Tony de Brum, and the islands' entire population won the Right Livelihood Honorary Award for "their vision and courage to take legal action against the nuclear powers for failing to honour their disarmament obligations under the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty".
Swedish-German philatelist Jakob von Uexkull founded the donor-funded prize in 1980 after the Nobel Foundation behind the Nobel Prizes refused to create awards honouring efforts in the fields of the environment and international development.
They were introduced "to honour and support those offering practical and exemplary answers to the most urgent challenges facing us today", according to the Right Livelihood Award Foundation, which often calls its distiction the "alternative Nobel prize".