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Rule of Law Award Honorees

2013 - Diego García-Sayán

Judge and President of the Inter-American Court of Human Rights

Diego García-Sayán is Judge and President of the Inter-American Court of Human Rights, and General Director of the Andean Commission of Jurists. He has served with the Inter-American Court of Human Rights since 2004, and he was elected its president in 2010. García-Sayán also serves as a member of the Permanent Court of Arbitration in the Hague.

García-Sayán has served as Peru’s Minister of Justice, helping normalize Peru’s relationship with the Inter-American Court of Human Rights, and as its Minister of Foreign Affairs, leading Peru’s ratification of the Rome Statute. He has also worked with the United Nations, including as the chairperson of its Working Group on Enforced and Involuntary Disappearances. Mr. García-Sayán serves as member of the executive of the Council of the Inter-American Institute for Human Rights, and has served as member of the Executive Committee of the Geneva-based International Commission of Jurists.

Mr. García-Sayán has written several publications and books on legal matters and on international politics and development. He has also taught at universities in several countries. His contributions to promoting justice have been acknowledged by several awards, including from the King of Spain, and from the governments of Bolivia, Colombia, Costa Rica, Ecuador, El Salvador and Peru.

2012 - Navanethem (Navi) Pillay

United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights

Ms. Pillay, a South African national, was the first woman to start a law practice in her home province of Natal in 1967. Over the next few years, she acted as a defense attorney for anti-apartheid activists, exposing torture, and helping establish key rights for prisoners on Robben Island.

She also worked as a lecturer at the University of KwaZulu-Natal, and later was appointed Vice-President of the Council of the University of Durban Westville. In 1995, after the end of apartheid, Ms. Pillay was appointed a judge on the South African High Court, and in the same year was chosen to be a judge on the International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda, where she served a total of eight years, the last four (1999-2003) as President. She played a critical role in the ICTR's groundbreaking jurisprudence on rape as genocide, as well as on issues of freedom of speech and hate propaganda. In 2003, she was appointed as a judge on the International Criminal Court in the Hague, where she remained until August 2008.

In South Africa, as a member of the Women's National Coalition, she contributed to the inclusion of an equality clause in the country’s Constitution that prohibits discrimination on grounds of race, religion and sexual orientation. She co-founded Equality Now, an international women's rights organization, and has been involved with other organizations working on issues relating to children, detainees, victims of torture and of domestic violence, and a range of economic, social and cultural rights.

Ms. Pillay received a BA and a LLB from Natal University South Africa. She also holds a Master of Law and a Doctorate of Juridical Science from Harvard University. She was born in 1941, and has two daughters.

2011 - Michelle Bachelet

United Nations Under-Secretary-General, Executive Director of UN Women and former President of Chile

Ms. Michelle Bachelet is the first Under-Secretary-General and Executive Director of UN Women, which was established on 2 July 2010 by the United Nations General Assembly. Under Ms. Bachelet’s leadership, UN Women will lead, support and coordinate the work on gender equality and the empowerment of women at global, regional and country levels.

Ms. Bachelet most recently served as President of Chile from 2006 to 2010. A long-time champion of women’s rights, she has advocated for gender equality and women’s empowerment throughout her career. One of her major successes as President was her decision to save billions of dollars in revenues to spend on issues such as pension reform, social protection programmes for women and children, and research and development, despite the financial crisis. Other initiatives included tripling the number of free early child-care centres for low-income families and the completion of some 3,500 child-care centres around the country.

Ms. Bachelet also held ministerial portfolios in the Chilean Government as Minister of Defence and Minister of Health. As Defence Minister, Ms. Bachelet introduced gender policies intended to improve the conditions of women in the military and police forces. As Minister of Health, she implemented health care reform, improving attention to primary care facilities with the aim of ensuring better and faster health care response for families.

2010 - The Honorable Arthur Chaskalson

Chief Justice of South Africa (ret.)

Chief Justice Chaskalson is a true rule of law champion. His career has been inspiring, from his work as a committed human rights lawyer to his service as a visionary and dedicated jurist on the international stage. He served as director of South Africa’s Legal Resources Centre, and was the leading counsel in several cases that challenged the implementation of apartheid laws. President Nelson Mandela appointed Chaskalson the first president of South Africa’s new Constitutional Court, and he later served as chief justice from 2001–2005. He is currently a commissioner with the International Commission of Jurists.

2009 -  Zimbabwe Lawyers for Human Rights (ZLHR)

Zimbabwe Lawyers for Human Rights (ZLHR) is a non-profit human rights organization that aims, through the observance of the rule of law, to encourage and foster a robust human rights culture at all levels of Zimbabwean society. Founded in 1996, ZLHR is committed to protecting the constitutional rights and freedoms of Zimbabweans and of those living in the Southern Africa region. Other institutional aims include supporting the unimpeded administration of justice, encouraging free and fair elections and enabling the free flow of information. The organization keeps these values central to its activities.

ZLHR programs include: public interest litigation (including a prisoners’ rights initiative); human rights training and public education; international litigation, lobbying and advocacy; HIV/AIDS, human rights and the law efforts; institutional reform and policy formulation; and research and publications. Of particular note is ZLHR’s leadership in defending human rights cases and its representation of human rights defenders, civil society organizations, legitimate political players and pro-democracy activists. Since 2003, ZLHR has represented in excess of 4,500 human rights defenders—without conceding one conviction to the state. These individuals have benefited from emergency legal support and strategic litigation to challenge state excesses, infringement upon their rights, and unjust and repressive laws.

ZLHR currently has 14 full-time lawyers and a membership of 170, composed of 130 professional lawyers and 40 law students from the University of Zimbabwe. At great personal risk and to the benefit of humanity, they have given their time, energy and legal expertise to further the cause of human rights. While both ZLHR and its individual members have been recognized over the years, these accolades have not come without challenges to the organization and its staff and members, who—along with their families—have been collectively persecuted for their work.

ZLHR is also an influential member of the regional and international community, forming the Secretariat of the Human Rights Committee of the SADC Lawyers’ Association, and holding observer status with the African Commission on Human and Peoples’ Rights and affiliate status with the International Commission of Jurists.

For more information about ZLHR, visit:

2008 - Pakistani  lawyers and judges 

Those lawyers and judges in Pakistan who demonstrated courage in upholding the rule of law in their country

Throughout 2006 and 2007, tensions escalated between Pakistan’s president, Pervez Musharraf, and its judiciary, especially the Supreme Court. Conflicts over detainees, judicial independence, constitutional issues and disputed elections led the country’s lawyers and judges to repeatedly take to the streets in protest.

In November 2007, Musharraf declared a state of emergency, suspending the constitution and purging nearly 60 Supreme Court and provincial high court judges who declined to take an oath under the new Provisional Constitutional Order. Several other judges and thousands of lawyers and political activists were jailed and all private television and radio channels shut down.

Lawyers protested throughout Pakistan, with thousands being beaten and detained. Though the state of emergency was lifted on December 15, restrictions on press freedom and the removal of independent-minded judges were not reversed. In February 2008, opposition parties won the elections that followed the assassination of former Prime Minister Benazir Bhutto.

In March 2008, the newly-formed government formed a committee to reinstate removed judges. In May, the Pakistan Bar Council and the Supreme Court Bar Association announced they would hold a “Long March” from Karachi to Islamabad if deposed judges are not reinstated. On June 10, thousands of black-suited lawyers gathered for the “Long March,” which ended peacefully outside Parliament in Islamabad on June 14.

The Pakistani lawyers and judges who struggled to support the rule of law were honored for their efforts with the 2008 Rule of Law Award.

2007 - The Hon. Stephen Breyer

U.S. Supreme Court Justice

Stephen Breyer, born in San Francisco in 1938, is a graduate of Stanford, Oxford, and Harvard Law School. He taught law for many years as a professor at Harvard Law School and at the Kennedy School of Government. He has also worked as a Supreme Court law clerk (for Justice Arthur Goldberg), A Justice Department lawyer (antitrust division), and Assistant Watergate Special Prosecutor, and Chief Counsel of the Senate Judiciary Committee.

In 1980 he was appointed to the United States Court of Appeals for the First Circuit by President Carter, becoming Chief Judge in 1990. In 1994 he was appointed a Supreme Court Justice by President Clinton.

He has written books and articles about administrative law, economic regulation, and the Constitution. His wife Joanna, a British citizen, is a clinical psychologist. They have three children (Chloe, Nell, and Michael) and three grandchildren.

2006 - The Hon. Anthony Kennedy

U.S. Supreme Court Justice

Anthony M. Kennedy, Associate Justice, received his B.A. from Stanford University and the London School of Economics, and his LL.B. from Harvard Law School. He was in private practice in San Francisco, California, from 1961 to 1963, as well as in Sacramento, California, from 1963 to 1975. From 1965 to 1988, he was a Professor of Constitutional Law at the McGeorge School of Law, University of the Pacific.

Justice Kennedy has served in numerous positions during his career, including a member of the California Army National Guard in 1961, the board of the Federal Judicial Center in 1987–1988, and two committees of the Judicial Conference of the United States: the Advisory Panel on Finan­cial Disclosure Reports and Judicial Activities, subsequently renamed the Advisory Com­mittee on Codes of Conduct, from 1979 to 1987, and the Committee on Pacific Territories from 1979 to 1990, which he chaired from 1982 to 1990.

Justice Kennedy is a member of the American Bar Association Asia Law Initiative Council and advises the ABA Center for Rule of Law Initiatives.

Justice Kennedy was appointed to the United States Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit in 1975. President Ronald Reagan nominated him as an Associate Justice of the Supreme Court, and he took his seat on February 18, 1988.

Justice Kennedy was born in Sacramento, California, July 23, 1936. He married Mary Davis and has three children.

2006 - The Hon. Hilario Davide

Retired Philippine Supreme Court Chief Justice

Chief Justice Hilario G. Davide, Jr. has always been a leader by example. His professional life has been, for the most part, devoted to public service. He is known to maintain his professional competence and integrity amidst attempts to influence his official action and judgment. His service record stands as proof that a public servant can make a difference, without being beholden to no interest other than the public’s.

“Jun,” as he is known to his relatives and friends, was born on December 20, 1935 in the remote barangay of Colawin, in Argao, Cebu.

He went to Argao Elementary School and Abellana Vocational High School for his primary and secondary schooling, respectively. In college, he went to the University of the Philippines. He initially took up Associate in Arts in 1955. In the same year, he entered the U.P. College of Law as an entrance scholar. A year later, he became a member of the Order of the Purple Feather, the College’s honor society. He also became a member of the Student Editorial Board of the College’s legal publication, the Philippine Law Journal. He obtained his Bachelor of Science degree in Jurisprudence in 1958, and his law degree in 1959. In his last year in the U.P. College of Law, he became a member of two international honor societies, the Phi Kappa Phi and the Pi Gamma Mu.

He was thrust in the government service early on in his professional career. From 1959 to 1963, he became the Private Secretary to the Vice-Governor of the Province of Cebu, and then to its Governor. And, like his parents, he also became involved with the academe. From 1962 to 1968, he was a faculty member of the College of Law of Southwestern University in Cebu City. This university would later confer upon Chief Justice Davide his Doctor of Laws (Honoris Causa) degree (1999).

He was later elected as delegate of the 4th district of Cebu to the Constitutional Convention (CONCON) in 1971. He became Chairman of the Committee on Duties and Obligations of Citizens and Ethics of Public Officials. He was among the three delegates to the CONCON who introduced the most number of reform proposals.

The reforms adopted under the CONCON were, however, short-lived. Public unrest over deteriorating economic conditions and the suppression of political rights, as well as the desire of the Marcos regime to perpetuate itself in power, heralded the declaration of martial law in 1972.

Chief Justice Davide became one of martial law’s staunch critics. In 1978, he was elected assemblyman for Cebu in the Interim Batasang Pambansa. An oppositionist in the ruling party-dominated legislative body, he was its first Minority Floor Leader. As assemblyman, he filed the most number of bills of national significance, as well as resolutions to lift martial law. He also sought legislative investigations of graft and corruption in government and reported violations of human rights.

Shortly after the overthrow of the Marcos regime through the “People Power” revolt in February 1986, then President Corazon C. Aquino convened the Constitutional Commission (CONCOM) of 1986, and appointed Chief Justice Davide one of the fifty Commissioners. He was the Chairman of the CONCOM’s Committee on the Legislative Power, and a member of the Committees on the Executive Power, the Judiciary, Style and Public Hearings.

As Chairman of the Committee on Legislative Power, he was the principal author and sponsor of Article VI of the 1987 Constitution on the Legislative Department. He was also the sponsor of the Ordinance appended to the 1987 Constitution providing for the apportionment of seats in the House of Representatives. He submitted the most number of resolutions, a majority of which were incorporated in the Committee reports.

In February 1988, President Aquino appointed Chief Justice Davide as Chairman of the Commission on Elections (COMELEC). He was the principal sponsor of COMELEC’s rules of procedure. While serving in the COMELEC, he was designated as Chairman of the Presidential Fact-finding Commission created pursuant to Administrative Order No. 146. It was a task to conduct an investigation of the 1989 rebellion and the involvement in it of military and civilian officials and private persons. On the basis of a bill which was certified by the President to Congress and which later became Republic Act No. 6832, this Commission was superseded by a Fact-finding Commission to conduct a thorough investigation of the failed coup d ‘etat of December 1989, and recommend measures to prevent the occurrence of similar attempts at a violent seizure of power. Chief Justice Davide was appointed as Chairman and he was deemed resigned as Chairman of the COMELEC.

He was appointed as Associate Justice of the Supreme Court on January 24, 1991. From January 2, 1996 to August 30, 1997, he sat as a member of the Senate Electoral Tribunal. He was also the Working Chairman of the Court’s Third Division from January 2, 1996 to September 7, 1997, and Chairman of the House of Representative Electoral Tribunal from September 1, 1997 to November 30, 1998.

Chief Justice Davide was appointed by President Joseph Ejercito Estrada on 30 November 1998 as the 20th Chief Justice of the Philippine Supreme Court. Forthwith, he took his oath of office at the new Bonifacio Shrine in the City of Manila.

2005 - Committee of Voters of Ukraine

The Committee of Voters of Ukraine (CVU) is an independent non-governmental organization that provides civil society development assistance in Ukraine. The mission of CVU is to educate citizens about their electoral and other rights, encourage public participation in governmental processes, and ensure transparent and democratic elections in Ukraine.

CVU was established in 1994 during parliamentary elections in Ukraine for the purpose of promoting free and fair elections. Since then, CVU has provided domestic observers during every presidential and parliamentary election, and has supplied observers for international observation missions elsewhere in the region. The organization maintains strict non-partisanship. CVU plays an important role as a trainer and mentor to other NGOs in both Ukraine, and in other NIS countries.

While perhaps best known for their elections work, the Committee has also established a network of Citizen Advice Bureaus (CABs), where citizens are able to obtain information concerning their rights and legal assistance through consultations and representation in court. CEELI has funded legal assistance programs through several of these CABs. CVU has also created “community organization boards,” which allow citizens to participate in the local decision-making processes.

During last year’s historic presidential election, CVU provided information to citizens on the candidates and political parties through press conferences, public meetings, and publications. Through the CEELI election project, the Committee established election consultation centers in 20 regions of Ukraine, and investigated election complaints for citizens and official representatives of political parties. Citizen Advice Bureaus provided legal assistance in courts, defending disadvantaged people, mostly pensioners, students, and unemployed. CVU distributed 400,000 flyers to the public regarding voter list verification, and operated the CEELI toll-free election hotline, providing some 60,000 consultations during the election period.

CVU remains an NGO committed to facilitating communication between citizens and government, and fostering a democratic Ukrainian society.

2004 - His Excellency Mikheil Saakashvili

President of Georgia

Mikheil Saakhashvili is an American-trained lawyer who has promoted the rule of law in the Republic of Georgia, a country strategically positioned between the Caspian and Black Seas and between Russia and the Middle East. To recognize his commitment to the rule of law, CEELI is honoring Saakashvili with the 2004 CEELI Award.

The world marveled at Saakashvili’s leadership of the “Rose Revolution,” through which peaceful protesters forced President Eduard Shevardnadze from office in late 2003. Saakashvili was then elected president in an emergency election this January.

Saakashvili earned a law degree from Columbia University in 1994. He then went on to earn an SJD from George Washington University in 1995. That year, he joined the law firm of Patterson, Belknap, Webb & Tyler in New York City.
While he was in New York, leaders in the Georgian government asked Saakashvili to return and help rebuild his country. He did so and was elected to the Georgian parliament in December 1995. Saakashvili soon made a name for himself as chairman of the parliamentary committee charged with creating a new electoral system, an independent judiciary, and a non-political police force. He soon earned an international reputation as a vocal critic of the corruption and nepotism that was crippling Georgia’s development.

In January 2000, Saakashvili was appointed Vice President of the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe. That October, he became Georgia’s Minister of Justice. He resigned just a year later to protest the high level of corruption in the government, and became a leader of the opposition against Shevardnadze.

2003 - Natasa Kandic

Founder and President, Humanitarian Law Center

Natasa Kandic is the founder and Executive Director of the Humanitarian Law Center (HLC) in Serbia and Montenegro. Ms. Kandic founded the HLC, a nongovernmental organization aimed at the protecting the human rights of minorities in Serbia, on November 9, 1992, after the rise of the Milosevic regime. The HLC has been successful in publicizing human rights abuses under the Milosevic regime. It has also presented to the Serbian parliament a report on police repression against Muslims in the Sandzak region, demanded the establishment of a commission to investigate the unlawful conduct of the Serbian police and successfully filed legal action against the Republic of Serbia on behalf of Serb refugees who were arrested by Serbian police and incorporated into the Bosnian Serb and Croatian Serb armies.

Relevant documentation collected by the HLC has been submitted to the Prosecutor’s Office at the International Criminal Tribunal for the Former Yugoslavia (ICTY). Natasa Kandic has the status of consultant in ICTY investigations in the territory of former Yugoslavia. Under Ms. Kandic’s leadership, the HLC has earned a reputation as a leading authority on the political and human rights situation in Kosovo.

During the NATO campaign, Natasa Kandic frequently visited Kosovo and spoke about human rights in radio programs for Radio Free Europe, the BBC, Deutche Welle and VOA. Her reports about atrocities committed by Serb forces, the Yugoslav Army and paramilitary units were published in more than thirty foreign media sources. Ms. Kandic’s visits to Kosovo and objective reporting about what happened in the province was especially important when there were no international organizations in the region and the local media in Serbia kept silent about the events in Kosovo.

Ms. Kandic began her fight to protect human rights in Kosovo long before the creation of the HLC. Natasa Kandic’s contribution to the controversial book Kosovski Cvor documented findings showing that that the homogenization of anti-Albanian public opinion was achieved through Serbian propaganda. As a human rights expert, Natasa Kandic participated in the 1997 International Round Table on Kosovo, a conference organized by the Carnegie and Soros Foundations. She also participated in the first local round table organized by ethnic Albanian human rights NGOs.

Ms. Kandic has organized many human rights campaigns, including the Candles for Peace campaign, a nightly vigil heldoutside the Serbian Presidency building from October 1991 to February 1993. During the vigil, the names of those killed in the war were read out and candles were lighted in their memory. Concurrent with this campaign, Ms. Kandic initiated the Anti-Conscription Petition, a petition against the conscription of Serbian citizens for war in the territory of Croatia. Seventy eight thousand signatures were collected. She also helped publish the first anti-war book in Serbia, A Grave for Miroslav Milenkovic, during this time.

From January to the end of March 1992, Ms. Kandic was a columnist in Belgrade’s first independent daily, Borba, a weekly publication of pro-peace statements by prominent intellectuals. In May 1992, she organized the Black Ribbon March, the most massive protest in Serbia against the suffering of civilians in Sarajevo. Some 150,000 Belgraders and people from other Serbian cities took part. This same year, Ms. Kandic also organized forums in Vojvodina against the increasing pressure for expulsion of ethnic Croats in the region.

From 1974 to 1979, Ms. Kandic worked as a researcher and analyst in the field of housing and related problems for the Belgrade Trade Union Organization. She is the recipient of numerous awards, including the Human Rights Watch Award in 1993, the U.S. and E.U. Democracy and Civil Society Awards in 1998, the Martin Ennals Award in 1999, the Lawyers Committee for Human Rights Award in 1999, the National Endowment for Democracy (NED) Democracy Award in 2000, the Geuzenpenning 2000 Award, the 2000 Roger E. Joseph Prize awarded by Hebrew Union College-Jewish Institute of Religion, the Alexander Langer Prize in 2000, the Northote Parkinson Fund Civil Courage Prize in 2000 and the Award for Human Rights from Human Rights Committee of Leskovac, Serbia. On May 31, 2001, the University of Valencia in Spain conferred an honorary doctorate on Natasa Kandic in recognition of her longstanding work in the field of human rights and her humanitarian activities.

Ms. Kandic earned a B.A. in sociology in 1972 from the University of Belgrade in Yugoslavia.

2002 - His Excellency Stjepan Mesic

President of Croatia

Stjepan Mesić was born on 24 December 1934 in Orahovica, Croatia. Shortly after his graduation from the Law Faculty at the University of Zagreb in 1961, Mesić entered politics and was elected to the parliament of Croatia; he was subsequently elected to the executive of his native Orahovica district. In the early 1970’s, he was imprisoned for his involvement in the “Croatian Spring”, a period of Croatian nationalist revival and political agitation within the Socialist Federal Republic of Yugoslavia (SFRY). Mesić remained politically active, eventually becoming Prime Minister of the Government of the Republic of Croatia in 1990.

He was subsequently appointed to the SFRY Presidency, serving as the SFRY’s last President until 5 December 1991. Following Croatian independence, he was elected Speaker of the Croatian Parliament. He resigned from this office two years later, however, having grown dissatisfied with the government’s policies in Bosnia. He subsequently founded the Croatian Independent Democrats Party (HND). In 1997, Mesić and the rest of the HND joined the Croatian National Party (HNS); he served as the party’s Executive Vice President.

On 7 February 2000, Mesić was elected to succeed Franjo Tudjman as President of Croatia. During the campaign, Mesić pledged to end Croatia’s isolation by improving cooperation with the International Criminal Tribunal for the Former Yugoslavia (ICTY) and to curtail financial support for ethnic Croats in neighboring Bosnia. He also endorsed a program of economic liberalization and supported an initiative to reduce the powers of the presidency.

Since his election, President Mesić has enhanced Croatia’s international standing and ended the country’s isolation. He moved quickly to establish a more cooperative relationship with the international community in general and the ICTY in particular. He also led Croatia into NATO’s Partnership for Peace and the World Trade Organization. In addition, Croatia recently signed a Stabilization and Association Agreement with the European Union.

Under President Mesić’s leadership, Croatia adopted reform-oriented policies and joined the international community. Moreover, it has turned its back on the authoritarian policies of the past. Not only has Mesić been instrumental in improving Zagreb’s cooperation with the ICTY, he has led the way to establishing Croatia as a reliable partner in the implementation of the Dayton Peace Accords. These policies were pursued with courage and in the face of considerable domestic opposition. Mesić has also shown leadership in raising public awareness of alleged war crimes committed by ethnic Croats and has promoted the impartial investigation and prosecution of war crimes through domestic courts. President Mesić has consistently demonstrated his commitment toward strengthening democratic institutions and advancing the rule of law. Under his leadership, Croatia has been democratized, with concrete gains in many areas, most notably in media freedoms and minority rights.

2001 - His Excellency Vaclav Havel

President of the Czech Republic

His Excellency Vaclav Havel was born into a prominent entrepreneurial and intellectual family. Due to his family’s involvement in Czechoslovak cultural and political events, President Havel was not accepted into any university humanities program. As a result, he decided to study at the Faculty of Economics of Czech Technical University, but left after two years. He then completed two years of military service and worked as a stage technician. From 1962 to 1966, President Havel studied drama at the Faculty of Theatre of the Academy of Musical Arts.

The intellectual tradition of his family compelled President Havel to promote the values of Czech culture despite its harsh suppression during the 1950s. Starting at age twenty, he published a number of studies and articles in various literary and theatrical periodicals. His work of 1963, “The Garden Party,” invigorated the 1960’s Czechoslovak society’s revivalist movement. This civic self-awareness culminated in the historic Prague Spring of 1968, an outburst of artistic expression by Czech intellectuals, suppressed by Soviet armies. During this period, President Havel chaired the Club of Independent Writers and participated in the Club of Politically Engaged Non-Partisans.

In 1956, he met Olga Splichalova, and they married eight years later. She accompanied President Havel through his most trying experiences and was described by her husband as his “indispensable source of support.” She died in 1996 after a prolonged illness.

After the invasion of the Soviet armies, President Havel continued his protest of the communist “normalization.” In 1975, he wrote a letter to President Husak warning him of the accumulated antagonism in Czechoslovak society. The culmination of his activities resulted in “Charter 77.” Published in January 1977, it embodied the character of the Czechoslovak population, which silently protested against the communist government’s oppression. President Havel was a co-founder of the resulting movement and one of its first three spokesmen. In April 1979, he helped to establish the Committee for the Defense of the Unjustly Oppressed. He was imprisoned three times for his civic views and spent nearly five years behind bars.

The brutal suppression of a peaceful student demonstration on November 17, 1989, began the wave of social change. Students and artists led subsequent civic uprisings and established the Civic Forum – a consortium of groups demanding fundamental changes in the Czechoslovak political system. Vaclav Havel was its leading figure. The social upheaval came to a climax on December 29, 1989, when the Federal Assembly of Czechoslovakia elected Civic Forum candidate, Vaclav Havel, as president. In his inaugural address, he promised to lead the nation to free elections, which he fulfilled in the summer of 1990. The Federal Assembly reelected him to the Czechoslovak Presidency on July 5, 1990.

Due to his unyielding political stance during the communist years, President Havel became a recognized moral authority. President Havel was also a determined supporter of the Federation of Czechs and Slovaks. The winners of the July 1992 parliamentary elections, however, no longer supported the Federation and thus failed to provide President Havel with the required votes. President Havel retired from public life from mid-July until mid-November 1992, but reemerged as a presidential candidate when the independence of the Czech nation was imminent. On January 26, 1993, the Chamber of Deputies elected Vaclav Havel to be the first President of the independent Czech Republic. Both Chambers of Parliament reelected President Havel to the Presidency on January 20, 1998.


1999 - His Excellency Emil Constantinescu

President of Romania

His Excellency Emil Constantinescu was born on November 19, 1939. In 1960, he earned his Diploma in Law from the University of Bucharest and became a judge for the Commercial Department of the Tribunal in Pitesti. One year later, in protest of the restrictions placed on the judiciary by the Communist regime, President Constantinescu relinquished this position to pursue a degree in geology. Upon graduation in 1966 from the University of Bucharest, President Constantinescu became a geology professor and later the rector at his alma mater. In 1979, he also earned a doctorate in Geological Studies.

President Constantinescu initiated his political career in 1990 as a founding member of the Universitarian Solidarity and the Civic Alliance, leading non-governmental organizations working for democratic reform in Romania. He also served as chairman of the Democratic and Anti-Totalitarian Forum which later emerged as the Romanian Democratic Convention (CDR), a broad center-right political alliance comprised of a number of disparate political and civic organizations. In 1992, Constantinescu was elected President of the CDR, ran as their nominee for President of Romania, attracted five million votes, but lost the run-off to President Ion Iliescu.

As the leader of the opposition, President Constantinescu developed a comprehensive plan for reform in Romania, including the elimination of corruption and poverty, reforming the agricultural sector and pension system, providing investment incentives, and improving the tax code. On the strength of this platform, President Constantinescu was elected President of Romania on November 17, 1996. His victory marked the first time since 1937 that the Romanian head of state changed in a democratic process.

Once in office, President Constantinescu established the “Committee for Combating Corruption and Organized Crime” and within the first year corruption prosecutions rose over one hundred and fifty percent. His “Romania at the Crossroads” program works to build and improve infrastructure throughout Romania. Under his leadership, the speed of the privatization process has also increased substantially.

President Constantinescu strongly supports Romania’s integration into NATO and the European Union. As the first signatory of NATO’s Partnership for Peace program, Romania remains an island of stability in the crisis-ridden region and will be instrumental in building a lasting peace in Southeastern Europe.

The author of ten books and 54 scientific studies in geology published in over seven countries, President Constantinescu was also awarded in 1979 the Prize of the Romanian Academy, the highest scientific distinction in Romania. Other international honors he has received include: the Christian Democrat International Aristides Calvani prize for his defense of democracy, the Institute for East-West Studies European Statesman of the Year award, the Center for Democracy Medal, and numerous honorary doctorates from universities from Ankara, Turkey to Montreal, Canada. He also has written more than 100 articles on political, economic, social, educational, cultural and environmental issues printed in such publications as Time, Le Monde, and Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung.

President Constantinescu and his wife, Nadia, have two children, Dragos and Norina.

1998 - His Excellency Petar Stoyanov

President of Bulgaria

His Excellency Petar Stoyanov was born on May 25, 1952, in Asenovgrad, Bulgaria. After graduating from secondary school, President Stoyanov entered the Saint Kliment Ohridski University of Sofia law faculty. He graduated with honors in 1976. Over the next fifteen years, he practiced civil law in Plovdiv.

Embarking on a political career in 1990, President Stoyanov co-founded and chaired a local Democracy Club. Later that year, he became spokesman of the local Coordinating Council of the Union of Democratic Forces (UDF), a new coalition of opposition political parties. In 1991, the UDF formed Bulgaria’s first non-communist government in nearly fifty years. During the UDF government’s brief tenure, President Stoyanov served as Deputy Minister of Justice. When the UDF was voted out of power in 1993, he continued to address legal issues as President of the UDF’s Legal Council. In 1994, President Stoyanov was elected to the Thirty-Seventh National Assembly as a representative of Montana in northwestern Bulgaria. While in office, he served as Deputy Chairman of the UDF Parliamentary Group, Deputy Chairman of the Parliamentary Commission on Youth, Sports, and Tourism, and he later oversaw the party’s domestic policy agenda.

After winning a decisive majority in the primary elections of 1996, President Stoyanov earned the UDF’s presidential nomination. In November 3, 1996, with the support of diverse opposition parties and nearly sixty percent of the popular vote, Petar Stoyanov was elected President. He was sworn into office on January 19, 1997.

That same month, widespread political protests and strikes ensued in response to the worsening economic situation in Bulgaria. President Stoyanov utilized his constitutional authority and worked to diffuse the potentially explosive situation. As a result of his efforts and mounting popular pressure against the ruling Bulgarian Socialist Party coalition, a caretaker government was appointed and early elections were called. In these elections, an UDF-led coalition won an absolute majority in Parliament.

President Stoyanov represents, as he stated in his inaugural address, “a new Bulgaria – with a new thinking and a new will.” He openly supports Bulgaria’s petition to join NATO and the European Union, organizations which “represent a whole set of values, including free markets, protection of foreign investment, protection of human rights, and the rule of law.”

President Stoyanov and his wife, Antonina, who is also an attorney and a former diplomat with the Embassy of Bulgaria in London, have a daughter, Fany, and a son, Stefan.

1997 - His Excellency Guntis Ulmanis

President of Latvia

Guntis Ulmanis, President of the Republic of Latvia, was born September 13, 1939, in Riga, Latvia. His great-uncle, Karlis Ulmanis, was the last president of independent Latvia.

In 1941, President Ulmanis and his family were deported to Siberia. In 1946, they were allowed to return to Latvia, but were forbidden to reside in Riga. Due to this restriction, the family settled in Edole, a town located in Latvia’s Kuldiga region. While President Ulmanis was attending primary school, his father was again deported to Siberia. The future president was spared this 1949 ordeal, however, due to his mother’s second marriage and surname change. During his high school years, he secretly reverted back to his original last name - Ulmanis.

Following his secondary school graduation, President Ulmanis enrolled in the Faculty of Economics at the University of Latvia. He graduated in 1963, and was drafted into the Soviet army. After two years of military service, he began working as an economist in the construction industry. He also lectured on construction economics at Riga Polytechnical Institute. Later, he worked at the Tram and Trolleybus Board, while continuing to lecture on economic planning at the University of Latvia. In 1971, he began working in Public Services, eventually becoming manager of the Riga District Public Services Department.

In 1992, President Ulmanis was appointed a board member of the Bank of Latvia and, following the footsteps of his great-uncle, joined the Latvian Farmers’ Union. A year later he was sent to represent the party in parliament (Saeima).

On July 7, 1993, President Ulmanis was elected as Latvia’s fifth President. On June 18, 1996, the Saeima re-elected him to serve a second term.

President Ulmanis’ efforts have encouraged private sector growth and a stable inflation rate in Latvia. Latvia’s per capita foreign direct investment currently ranks number one in the Baltics, and trails only Hungary, the Czech Republic, and Slovenia in Central and Eastern Europe. Latvia’s inflation rate has stabilized at about ten percent, showing a dramatic change from 1992 levels of over 900 percent.

Through both his economic achievements and his continued support for minority rights, President Ulmanis has built a solid foundation for Latvia’s entry into the European Union and NATO. Latvia signed the Partnership for Peace agreement on February 9, 1995, and presented its formal application for EU membership on October 27, 1995. President Ulmanis also received international recognition in June 1996 when he received an award from the Institute for East-West Studies in New York.

President Ulmanis and his wife, Aina, have a daughter, Guntra, and a son, Alvils.

1995 - His Excellency Michal Kovac

President of the Slovak Republic

Michal Ková_ was born on August 5, 1930 at Lubis, in the county of Humenne. He graduated from the Commercial Academy and School of Economics. After one year employment as assistant lecturer as the School of Economics in Bratislava he took up a post at a regional office of the State Bank of Czechoslovakia. He engaged in banking from the year 1956 up to 11 December 1989. Between the years 1965 and 1966 he lectured at the Bank School on Cuba and in the period 1967-1970 he worked as Deputy Director of a Trade Bank in London. In 1969 he was recalled from London and in 1979 he was excluded from the Communist Party of Czechoslovakia and shifted to a post of an ordinary bank clerk of the State Bank in Bratislava.

While working in banks he gave lectures as an external teacher at the School of Economics, until the year 1967. Since 1978 up to December 1989 he was employed as a part-time researcher at the Research Institute for Finances and Credit, later at the Central Institute of National Economy Research. He was engaged in issues of monetary policy and banking. Since 1987 he also worked part-time at the Faculty of Civil Engineering at the Slovak Technical College in the Department of Economics and Financing.

After the revolution 1989, he was appointed to the office of the Minister of Finances of the Slovak Republic under the Government of National Understanding. In the first free elections in June 1990, being a East Slovak Region candidate of the Revolutionary Movement "The Public Against Violence", he was elected the Deputy of the Federal Assembly, the House of the People, and appointed to the office of the Minister of Finances in Vladimir Me_iar's government. After recalling Vladimir Me_iar from the post of premier, he resigned and terminated his work in the government on May 18, 1991. In the 1992 elections he was elected Deputy of the House of People of the Federal Assembly for the East Slovak Region and in the first session of the Federal Assembly on June 26, 1992 as the Speaker of the Federal Assembly of the CSFR. Since 1991, he has been the Deputy Chairman of the Movement for the Democratic Slovakia for the Economic sphere.

He is married. His younger son, Michal, finished the degree program in the School of Economics and started enterprising. His older son, Juraj a Candidate of Sciences, passed the MBA program tests and was granted scholarship for studies at the London Business School.

His wife Emília is a university teacher at the School of Economics in Bratislava, the Department of Employment and Social Development.

1994 - His Excellency Kiro Gligorov

President of Macedonia