IBA Award for Outstanding Contribution by a Legal Practitioner to Human Rights

Supported by LexisNexis

The IBA annually presents an award to an outstanding lawyer in the world of human rights law. The award is free to enter and it is open to all lawyers, whether or not they are members of the IBA.

Application details

Each year, the IBA presents an award to an outstanding lawyer in the world of human rights law.

The IBA has always been dedicated to promoting and protecting human rights and the independence of the legal profession under a just rule of law. The International Bar Association's Human Rights Institute (IBAHRI) was established in 1995 under the honorary presidency of Nelson Mandela. The IBAHRI is an independent entity within the Public and Professional Interest Division (PPID) of the IBA. The Section on Public and Professional Interest (SPPI) sits within the PPID and within that entity, there is also a Human Rights Committee.

The award will be made to a legal practitioner (whether in private practice, public interest, employment as a legal adviser, academia, bar leadership or other regulation of the profession) who, through personal endeavour in the course of such practice, is deemed to have made an outstanding contribution to the promotion, protection and advancement of the human rights of all, or any group of, people, particularly with respect to their right to live in a fair and just society under the rule of law. LexisNexis is honoured to support the IBA Award for Outstanding Contribution by a Legal Practitioner to Human Rights.

All applications must be received by MIDNIGHT (BST) SUNDAY 20 JUNE 2021.

2020 Winner


Neri Colmenares

The IBA Award for Outstanding Contribution by a Legal Practitioner to Human Rights was presented at the IBA 2020 – Virtually Together Conference during the SPPI Awards Ceremony on Monday 09 November. The award recognises a legal practitioner who has made an outstanding contribution to the promotion, protection and advancement of human rights. Pictured is 2020 winner Neri Colmenares, a renowned human rights lawyer and activist in the Philippines. He receives the accolade in respect of his extensive contribution to human rights, and his continuing determination and advocacy, in the face of great adversity.

View awards ceremony

Previous Winners


Dr Margaret Ng and Martin Lee SC JP
Presented with the award for outstanding contribution to the promotion, protection and advancement of human rights.

Adeola Oyinlade
Presented with the award for his outstanding contribution to the promotion, protection and advancement of human rights.

Ramazan Demir
Presented with the award for his high impact on defence work in extremely challenging and threatening circumstances.

Galina Arapova
Presented with the award for her unstinting effort to protect the right to freedom of expression and information in her home country of Russia.

Adilur Rahman Khan
Presented with the Award for his tireless dedication to championing human rights in Bangladesh, campaigning against torture, extrajudicial killings, enforced disappearances, and violence against women and minority communities.

Abukar Hassan Ahmed
Presented with the Award for his dedication to the fight for human rights and the rule of law in Somalia, speaking out against the brutal Siad Barre regime and defending people arrested for their political beliefs.

  • Abdolfattah Soltani, Iran
    Presented with the Award for his courage and commitment to the rule of law and human rights in Iran, enduring long-term prison sentences, harassment, and intimidation for providing pro-bono legal counsel to those in need.

  • Ivan Velasquez Gomez, Colombia
    Presented with the Award for his commitment to human rights and justice and his courage working on parliamentary transparency and organised crime.

  • Clive Stafford Smith, United Kingdom
    Presented with the Award for his commitment to bringing legal rights to the most vulnerable and to those who cannot afford representation. In addition, for his work defending individuals on death row, ensuring due process and justice for those wrongly convicted.

  • George Bizos, South Africa
    Presented with the Award for his outstanding contribution to human rights law in South Africa. Nelson Mandela, one of the many who nominated Mr Bizos said, ‘I know of no person more worthy for this honour’.