New Zealand Law Society - Veteran jurist receives Stockholm Human Rights Award

Veteran jurist receives Stockholm Human Rights Award

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Thomas Buergenthal, international jurist and professor of law, was presented with the 10th Stockholm Human Rights Award at a ceremony held in Stockholm, Sweden, on 20 November.

Bestowed annually by the Swedish Bar Association, the International Bar Association and the International Legal Assistance Consortium, the award is given in recognition of outstanding work done in advancing international justice, contributions made to democracy based on the rule of law, and for strengthening respect for, and protecting and promoting, human rights.

Anne Ramberg, Secretary General of the Swedish Bar Association, presented the Award to Judge Buergenthal before a gathering of around 1,000 national and international guests.

In an onstage interview with Mark Ellis, Executive Director of the International Bar Association, Judge Buergenthal told the audience: "I believe that in order to create an environment in our countries that promotes the protection of human rights, we need intelligent human rights education."

He cited "he failures of parents, schools, religious institutions and universities to establish nationwide programmes that are designed to create a political climate that advocates respect and tolerance for all human beings… regardless (of) how they… differ from one another’ as the root cause of endemic human rights violations. ‘First and foremost, human rights education must begin at home, because it is usually at home that children first learn to hate – sad but true."

He also criticised the current American President.

“I never thought we could elect somebody like this man, who has no sense of kindness towards human beings … It’s a real danger, if he’s re-elected for another four years it will be getting very dangerous … It is a very different America that I loved and took me in and treated me as if I had been born there …”

“I’m very concerned about the two people that the administration has managed to get on the (US) Supreme Court.”

Past recipients of the Award:

2017: International Criminal Court
2016: Mary Robinson
2015: Prince Zeid Ra‘ad Zeid Al-Hussein
2014: B'Tselem
2013: Professor M Cherif Bassiouni
2012: Thomas Hammarberg and European Roma Rights Centre
2011: George Soros and Aryeh Neier
2010: Navi Pillay
2009: Richard Goldstone