The American Bar Association’s Center for Human Rights presented its third annual Eleanor Roosevelt Prize for Global Human Rights Advancement to Dr. Anthony Fauci, Billie Jean King and Nasrin Sotoudeh.
ABA President Patricia Lee Refo opened the virtual ceremony, which was presented by the LexisNexis Rule of Law Foundation, with remarks honoring the awardees. “Eleanor Roosevelt, of course, was not a lawyer herself,” Refo said. “Yet her work was central to shaping the foundation of modern international human rights law. Her leadership brought together brilliant minds representing divergent perspectives, opinions, cultures, and personalities. Our 2020 Roosevelt honorees are similarly brilliant and have made extraordinary contributions in their respective fields, all to humanity’s betterment.”
The award was established in 2018 with the blessing of the Roosevelt family to celebrate persons and organizations with an enduring, positive impact in advancing the principles set forth in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, which Eleanor Roosevelt championed.
Fauci, the director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, was honored for his work in advancing the human right to health in the United States and around the globe, beginning with the HIV/AIDS pandemic, through the Ebola crisis and, today, the COVID-19 pandemic.
“Since health, at least in my mind, is a human right … often you need advocates to help you exercise that right,” Fauci said. “And that’s where lawyers who are dedicated to that come in. So, if this is something that interests you, come on in. We need you.”
Tennis great King was celebrated for her accomplishments in advancing women’s empowerment in pursuit of true equality for all human beings. “Eleanor Roosevelt understood this better than anybody: We all have to work together, and everybody counts," King said.
Nasrin Sotoudeh, an Iranian human rights lawyer who was recently sentenced to more than 38 years’ imprisonment and 148 lashes because of her work defending women’s rights and protesting Iran’s forced veiling laws, was recognized for her stalwart courage and effectiveness in pursuit of a just rule of law in Iran.
Sotoudeh said she was honored her colleagues on the other side of the world are paying attention to the condition of lawyers in Iran. She recorded remarks in November when she was temporarily released from prison and put under home arrest after contracting COVID-19. “This professional solidarity, which transcends our governments, advances a brighter outlook for civil society and the true meaning of rights and justice,” she said.