Skip to main content

Asma Jahangir, winner, 2018 UN Human Rights Prize

18 December 2018

Asma Jahangir, former UN Special Rapporteur on the situation of human rights in the Islamic Republic of Iran, is one of the recipients of this year’s prestigious UN Human Rights Prize.

The prize was awarded posthumously to Jahangir who died earlier in 2018 in her home country of Pakistan at the age of 66.

Many in the global human rights movement remember Jahangir as “a giant.”

She was the first woman to serve as the President of the Supreme Court Bar Association in Pakistan. She was the founder of a home-grown human rights movement in Pakistan and co-founded and served as Chairperson of Human Rights Commission of Pakistan.

Jahangir won numerous international awards in recognition of her human rights work including the Martin Ennals Award in 1995, the UNESCO/Bilbao Prize for the Promotion of Culture of Human rights and honoured as an Officier dans l’Ordre national de la Légion d’honneur by France.

With the UN Human Rights office, Jahangir made several unique contributions, including serving as an independent expert on a few occasions. She was an expert in the Investigation on Sri Lanka; a member of International Fact-Finding Mission on Israeli Settlements in the Occupied Palestinian Territory; and a trustee of the UN Voluntary Trust Fund on Contemporary Forms of Slavery.

She was also a long-standing prominent member of the UN Human Rights Council special procedures system, having served as Special Rapporteur on extrajudicial, summary or arbitrary executions; and Special Rapporteur on the freedom of religion or belief.

The UN Prize in the Field of Human Rights is an honorary award given to individuals and organizations in recognition of outstanding achievement in human rights.

It provides an opportunity to give recognition to the achievements of the recipients themselves and to send a clear message to human rights defenders all over the world that the international community is grateful for, and supports, their efforts to promote all human rights for everyone.

This is the tenth award of the prize, coinciding this year with the 70th anniversary of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights.

Every five years, prize winners are chosen by a special committee mandated by the UN General Assembly. That committee comprises of the President of the General Assembly, the president of the Economic and Social Council, the President of the Human Rights Council, the Chair of the Commission on the Status of Women and the Chair of the Advisory Committee of the Human Rights Council. The UN Human Rights office provides support to the special committee.

The award ceremony for the 2018 Prize will take place at UN Headquarters in New York on 18 December, as part of activities to celebrate Human Rights Day.

This year’s other three winners include Rebeca Gyumi, a Tanzanian activist for the rights of women and girls; Joenia Wapixana (Joenia Batista de Carvalho), an activist for indigenous communities in Brazil; and the Irish organization, Front Line Defenders, which advocates and works for the protection of human rights defenders.

18 December 2018