Applications open for Faculty’s international human rights award

08 Jul

THE Faculty of Advocates has launched the Scottish Bar International Human Rights Award 2024 to recognise human rights lawyers and defenders who uphold human rights and the rule of law worldwide. 

Human rights lawyers and defenders play a key role in upholding the rule of law by representing local communities and victims of alleged mass human rights violations in areas of armed conflict, social unrest, persecution of minorities or environmental conflicts. The 2023 Rule of Law Index revealed that more than six billion people live in countries where the rule of law weakened between 2022 and 2023. Fundamental human rights diminished in 77% of the countries surveyed. The situation is even more acute than in 2018 when Faculty first launched this award. 

According to Frontline Defenders in 2022 a total of 401 human rights defenders were murdered in over 26 countries. Many others were victims of acts of violence, intimidation, harassment, smear campaigns and surveillance. Impunity rates in such cases are often extremely high.  

Despite these challenges, many human rights lawyers and defenders achieve remarkable outcomes in the face of real danger and adversity. This award by Faculty serves to recognise these achievements and the bonds of solidarity and respect that exist between lawyers globally who work to uphold human rights and the rule of law. 

The winner of the Scottish Bar International Human Rights Award will be hosted by Faculty in Edinburgh for one to two weeks next year. They will attend the award ceremony, promote their work, meet with Faculty members and human rights organisations, and receive bespoke training at Faculty’s training and education department. 

The selection committee for the award will be chaired by the Right Honourable Lord Bonomy, a retired and eminent senior Scottish judge and former judge of the United Nations International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia. “It is a privilege to be invited once more to join the selection committee for Faculty’s International Human Rights Award aimed at showcasing and supporting the work of human rights defenders working in the most demanding circumstances worldwide,” said Lord Bonomy. 

He will be joined by Professor Alan Miller, Professor of Practice in Human Rights Law and Independent Expert with the UN Development Programme Crisis Bureau. “I am delighted to continue to support this excellent initiative of the Faculty of Advocates and look forward to learning about the efforts of human rights defenders in such challenging times globally,” said Professor Miller. 

“I am delighted the Faculty of Advocates is launching the International Human Rights Award 2024. Around the world, human rights defenders face intimidation, persecution, and violence. The award recognises their vital contribution to protecting human rights, provides an opportunity to promote their work, and demonstrates our solidarity with them in upholding the rule of law,” said Shelagh McCall KC, Convenor of Faculty’s Human Rights and Rule of Law Committee, who will also be a member of the selection committee. Other members include Roddy Dunlop KC, Dean of the Faculty of Advocates, and Ruth Crawford KC, Treasurer of the Faculty of Advocates. 

The closing date for entries is 31 August 2024. For full details and to apply click here