When she was awarded the LI Prize for Freedom in 1994, Sadako Ogata was UN High Commissioner for Refugees. She took this office in 1991 and has been re-elected twice since then, in 1994 and 1997.
She counts as one of the greatest activists for refugees, being actively engaged in both the welfare of children in camps, and in deliberations with governments and volunteer organisations.
In her most recent statements and speeches, she focused on the situation in former Yugoslavia. She had pointed out very early that the intervention in Kosovo would lead to a catastrophe and she continued to appeal for an end to the hostilities. Her second big focus lies on the Region of the Great Lakes in Africa.
In April 1995 she was awarded the Philadelphia Liberty Medal. In the same year she also received the IRC Freedom Award. In August 1996, she was one of the women to be considered as a candidate for the election of the UN Secretary-General. Sadako Ogata also participated in the Meetings of the Trilateral Commission (between North America, Europe and Japan) in 1992, 1998, and 1999.