South Asians for Human Rights

Promoting Democracy, Upholding Human Rights

UNITED NATIONS: One of Pakistan’s leading human rights defenders, Asma Jahangir, was Tuesday named as this year’s winner of a UN award that recognizes outstanding individual contribution to promoting a culture of human rights around the world.

The Director-General of the UN Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (Unesco), Irina Bokova, nominated Ms. Jahangir as laureate of this year’s Bilbao Prize for the Promotion of a Culture of Human Rights in recognition of her work in Pakistan’s Supreme Court where she championed the rights of religious minorities, women and children, according to a UN press release issued at UN Headquarters in New York.

Ms. Jahangir is the president of the Supreme Court Bar Association of Pakistan, a founding member of the Human Rights Commission of Pakistan and served as its Secretary-General and chairperson.

Internationally, Ms. Jahangir is known for her roles as the UN Special Rapporteur on Freedom of Religion or Belief, and the UN Special Rapporteur on Extrajudicial, Summary or Arbitrary Executions.

Announcing Ms. Jahangir as the winner of the prize Tuesday as the UN marked the International Day for Tolerance is intended honour her commitment and important contribution to fostering inter-religious and inter-cultural dialogue, tolerance, mutual understanding and cooperation for peace, Paris-based Unesco said.

The award carries a $25,000 cash reward, a diploma and a bronze trophy, which will be presented at a ceremony in Bilbao, Spain, on 10 December, which is observed globally as Human Rights Day.

The Unesco/Bilbao Prize is given out every two years and is funded by a donation from the Spanish city. It succeeded the UNESCO Prize for Human Rights Education that was set up 30 years ago. The prize was first awarded to StC)phane Hessel, a French human rights advocate, in 2008.

Source: Dawn – 17.11.2010