AUSTRALIAN MICHAEL KIRBY WINS UNESCO PRIZE FOR HUMAN RIGHTS EDUCATION

Paris, December 10 {No98-273} - Michael Kirby, a judge of the High Court of Australia, was today named by UNESCO Director-General Federico Mayor as laureate of the 1998 UNESCO Prize for Human Rights Education. An international jury responsible for the prize also awarded honourable mentions to Chilean Jaime Castillo Velasco and the Raoul Wallenberg Institute of Human Rights and Humanitarian Law (Sweden).

In awarding the prize to Justice Kirby, the jury said it wanted to recognise “his significant contribution to the teaching of the principles of human rights within his profession and beyond, in Australia and a number of other countries”. The 59-year-old was the first Chairman of the Australian Law Reform Commission. He also chaired a group of the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development on privacy protection, and sat on commissions for the World Health Organization (the social, legal and ethical implications of AIDS) and the International Labour Organization (labour laws in post-apartheid South Africa). Between 1993 and 1996, Mr Kirby was special representative of the Secretary-General of the United Nations for Human Rights in Cambodia. A member of the UNESCO International Bioethics Committee in 1996 and 1997, he has been involved in numerous UNESCO human rights projects.

Chilean lawyer Jaime Castillo Velasco, 84, was twice expelled from his native country by the government of General Augusto Pinochet. A former head of the Christian Democrat party, he held ministerial posts and was the founder of the Latin American Human Rights Secretariat. He represented a number of Chileans facing persecution and successfully conducted the prosecution of officers from the DINA secret service on charges of murder and human rights violations.

The Raoul Wallenberg Institute of Human Rights and Humanitarian Law works in collaboration with the University of Lund, Sweden. Since being founded in 1984 it has maintained a specialised research library covering international law and human rights, as well as offering seminars, colloquies and research and teaching posts.

The UNESCO Prize for Human Rights Education was created in 1978. It aims to encourage and pay tribute to an institution, organisation or person which has carried out significant activities in the area of human rights education. The US $10,000 prize is awarded every two years. The most recent winners have been Czech President Vaclav Havel in 1990; the Tunis-based Arab Institute for Human Rights, in 1992; the Philippine Commission on Human Rights and the Chilean academic Jose Zalaquett Daher in 1994; and in 1996 the Former President of Haiti, Jean Bertrand Aristide.

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