B'Tselem Receives 2014 Stockholm Human Rights Award

 Left to right: Hagai El-Ad, Jessica Montell and Mark Ellis

Photo courtesy of Tom Knutson Swedish Bar Association

The 2014 Stockholm Human Rights Award has been presented to B'Tselem – the Israeli human rights organisation – in recognition of its tireless work protecting and promoting the human rights of residents in the challenging environments of the Palestinian Territories and Israel.

Accepting the Award, given annually by the International Legal Assistance Consortium, the Swedish Bar Association and the International Bar Association (IBA), B'Tselem’s Executive Director Mr Hagai El-Ad said, ‘How thankful and moved I am by this honour, which has been given to B'Tselem. This is a strong message in support of human rights back in Israel and Palestine a message that is a significant contribution to the strength of our organisation, in undertaking our moral responsibility to speak out against injustices.’

Created in 1989, the objective of B'Tselem is to promote respect for, and ensure protection of, universal human rights standards for residents of the Palestinian Territories, while educating the public and policymakers in Israel. Through its work, B'Tselem demonstrates its recognition that all Israelis and Palestinians have equal rights that must be respected by both Israeli and Palestinian authorities. The organistaion:

  • documents both specific incidents and systemic problems effecting human rights;
  • maintains extensive communication with Israeli authorities to ensure that individual cases are addressed;
  • encourages a rethinking of policies that are out of step with Israel’s legal obligations;
  • conducts first-class research, analysing the full spectrum of human rights concerns; and
  • uses creative public education and advocacy strategies to generate public discussion and foster positive change.

The presenter of the Award, the Secretary-General of the Swedish Bar Association Anne Ramberg said, ‘The work of human rights defenders to uphold international human rights law across the world is essential, and no more so than when working in an environment where the host government may be hostile to criticism. B'Tselem has shone international light on human rights violations in Israel and the occupied Palestinian territories, providing a voice to victims and calling for accountability.’ She added, ‘It is commendable that B'Tselem has worked tirelessly to promote human rights standards while fighting against a majority voice, all the while maintaining integrity and dignity. It is for these reasons that B'Tselem has been awarded the 2014 Stockholm Human Rights Award.’

The Award ceremony took place on Tuesday 25 November 2014 at Berwaldhallen in Stockholm before a gathering of 600 people. Representing B'Tselem at the ceremony was B'Tselem Executive Director Mr El-Ad, his predecessor Ms Jessica Montell, and field researcher Ms Salma a-Deb'i. Following brief remarks by Christian Åhlund, Executive Director of the International Legal Assistance Consortium, IBA Executive Director Mark Ellis conducted an interview with Mr El-Ad and Ms Montell.

Dr Ellis commented, ‘It is irrefutable that B'Tselem has made outstanding contributions to support democratic development and human rights. It has gained respect and support from both outside and inside Israel, leading the former Deputy Speaker of the Knesset, Naomi Chazan to comment, “B’Tselem not not only protects the rights of Palestinians under Israel’s control, it also protects Israel’s democracy”. I agree: B'Tselem is indeed a very worthy winner of this year’s Stockholm Human Rights Award.’


Notes to the Editor

  1. B'Tselem takes its name from the Hebrew for ‘in the image of,’ which is also used as a synonym for human dignity. The word comes from Genesis 1:27: ‘So God created mankind in his own image, in the image of God he created them; male and female he created them.

  2. The Stockholm Human Rights Award was established in 2009 by the International Legal Assistance Consortium (ILAC), the Swedish Bar Association and the International Bar Association (IBA). It is awarded annually to a person or an organisation for outstanding services in the support of human rights and the rule of law.

  3. Past recipients of the Award:
    • 2013 Professor Cherif Bassiouni
    • 2012 Thomas Hammarberg and European Roma Rights Centre
    • 2011 George Soros and Aryeh Neier
    • 2010 Navi Pillay
    • 2009 Richard Goldstone

  4. The International Bar Association(IBA), established in 1947, is the world’s leading organisation of international legal practitioners, bar associations and law societies. Through its global membership of individual lawyers, law firms, bar associations and law societies it influences the development of international law reform and shapes the future of the legal profession throughout the world.

    The IBA’s administrative office is in London. Regional offices are located in: São Paulo, Brazil; Seoul, South Korea; and Washington DC, US, while the International Bar Association’s International Criminal Court Programme(IBA ICC) is managed from an office in The Hague.

    The International Bar Association’s Human Rights Institute(IBAHRI) works to promote, protect and enforce human rights under a just rule of law, and to preserve the independence of the judiciary and the legal profession worldwide.


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