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

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.

2023 Recipient


Lawyer Ravi Madasamy has received the 2023 International Bar Association (IBA) Award for Outstanding Contribution by a Legal Practitioner to Human Rights for his extraordinary dedication to defending human rights and advocating for the decriminalisation of homosexuality and the abolition of the death penalty in the Republic of Singapore.

On receipt of his award, Mr Madasamy commented: ‘For the moments of heartbreak, tears and hopelessness, receiving this award makes my journey completely worthwhile, even if it means losing my liberty along the way. It has been a journey worth taking. I feel truly honoured in being the recipient of this rare award. It has come at a time when I’m going through so many challenges in Singapore and the award has certainly uplifted my spirit. It is great to know that the IBA is appreciative of my contribution to human rights in Singapore, in the course of my legal practice over a span of 20 years. I wish to dedicate this award to my late mother, who had shown me the path, and also dedicate the award to all the human rights activists in Singapore, who have worked with me over the years.’

In addition, Mr Madasamy recorded a video message of acceptance, because he was not in Paris to receive the Award in person. 

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Previous Recipients


Jiang Tianyong presented with the award for his extraordinary dedication to defending human rights in the People’s Republic of China.

Maksim Znak and Ludmila Kazak
Presented with the award for their commitment to defending democratic principles and human rights in Belarus.

Neri Colmenares
Presented with the award for outstanding contribution to human rights, and his continuing determination and advocacy, in the face of great adversity.

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’.