Wednesday 8 February 2006
The International Bar Association (IBA) is to give its prestigious Rule of Law Award this year to Aryeh Neier and Sandy D’Alemberte. The Awards, which honour individuals who have made a significant and lasting contribution to upholding the rule of law worldwide, will be presented Saturday 25 February at a special ceremony in Miami, Florida.
Aryeh Neier is regarded as America’s foremost human rights advocate. Currently President of the Open Society Institute funded by the philanthropist George Soros, Mr Neier became known worldwide as a founder of Human Rights Watch, a once small organisation that has become one of the world’s most authoritative voices on international human rights. He has worked tirelessly to investigate and expose human rights abuses around the world, and to argue for the accountability of those who perpetrate such abuses: among his many achievements in this field, he played a leading role in the creation of the International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia.
He gained renown in the late 1970s when as National Director of the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) he defended the right of neo-Nazis to march through a Skokie, Illinois neighbourhood whose residents included Holocaust survivors. Looking back at the episode in 1979 Mr Neier wrote, ‘Freedom has its risks. Suppression of freedom, I believe, is a sure prescription for disaster.’
Talbot ‘Sandy’ D’Alemberte, President Emeritus of Florida State University (FSU), who is special counsel to Hunton & Williams, was responsible for initiating the American Bar Association’s Central European and Eurasian Law Initiative (CEELI), a volunteer programme on a vast scale that brought the concept of the rule of law to emerging democracies across Central and Eastern Europe, and pioneered a model for the implementation of justice systems that has since been replicated across Africa, Latin America and Asia.
As President of FSU, Mr D’Alemberte was responsible for the establishment of FSU’s Center for the Advancement of Human Rights, which takes on landmark human rights cases, and promotes training and advocacy work. During earlier service as Dean of the FSU College of Law, he established the Capital Post-Conviction Resource Center to support lawyers who volunteer to represent inmates appealing death sentences. He has served as President of the American Bar Association (1991-92) and President of the American Judicature Society (1982-84).
Mark Ellis, Executive Director of the IBA comments, ‘It is a privilege to be able to honour Aryeh Neier and Sandy D’Alemberte with IBA Rule of Law Awards. Both men have a clear vision of justice which serves as a role model and inspiration to the society they serve. There are times when the pressures of events and ideas can cause a diminishment of support for the best ideals of the law, and both men have shown their real stature in acting always in these times as beacons to the higher ground.’
Previous recipients of the IBA Rule of Law Awards include Judge Theodor Meron, President of the ICTY, Luis Moreno Ocampo, Chief Prosecutor of the ICC, Christian Ahlund, Executive Director for the International Legal Assistance Consortium and Sten Hecksher, the National Police Commissioner for Sweden.
For further information and comment, please contact:
International Bar Association
10th Floor, 1 Stephen Street
London W1T 1AT, United Kingdom
Tel: + 44 (0)20 7691 6868
Fax: + 44 (0)20 7691 6544