The ceremony will also feature remarks from James R. Silkenat, president-elect of the American Bar Association, and Stephen N. Zack, chair of the ABA ROLI board and former president of the ABA.
Before being appointed to her U.N. post in July 2008, Pillay served both as a judge with the International Criminal Court and as a judge president of the International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda. She helped develop groundbreaking laws on rape and genocide and worked on freedom of speech and hate propaganda issues.
Pillay was the first woman to start a law firm in South Africa’s Natal Province, providing legal defense for opponents of apartheid. She exposed the practice of torture and solitary confinement on detainees held in police custody, and successfully established the rights of prisoners on Robben Island. She co-founded the Advice Desk for the Abused and ran a shelter for victims of domestic violence. Pillay was an attorney of the High Courts of South Africa from 1967–1995 and became acting judge of the High Courts in 1995.
As a member of the Women’s National Coalition, she worked to include an equality clause in South Africa’s Constitution that prohibited discrimination on the grounds of race, religion and sexual orientation.
The Rule of Law Award, formerly known as the CEELI Award, was established in 1994 to honor leaders, and the countries they represent, who have taken significant steps toward implementing democratic and market reforms in their nations.
Winners of the Rule of Law Award include a spectrum of individuals and groups from around the world that have demonstrated an uncommon vision, courage and perseverance in promoting the rule of law. Recent award winners include Michelle Bachelet, first woman president of Chile, Stephen Breyer, U.S. Supreme Court justice, and Hilario Davide, former chief justice of the Supreme Court of the Philippines.
ABA ROLI is an international development program that promotes the rule of law by working with in-country partners to build sustainable institutions and societies that deliver justice, foster economic opportunity and ensure respect for human dignity. ABA ROLI implements legal reform programs in roughly 60 countries in Africa, Asia, Europe and Eurasia, Latin America and the Caribbean, and the Middle East and North Africa.
For media credentialing, please contact Rabiah Burks at Rabiah.Burks@americanbar.org. This event is free and open to members of the press.
With nearly 400,000 members, the American Bar Association is the largest voluntary professional membership organization in the world. As the national voice of the legal profession, the ABA works to improve the administration of justice, promotes programs that assist lawyers and judges in their work, accredits law schools, provides continuing legal education, and works to build public understanding around the world of the importance of the rule of law.
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