Students Staff

23 October 2015

Essex lecturer to receive top UN human rights prize

The United Nations Foundation has announced this week that Dr Ahmed Shaheed of the University of Essex, is one of the 2015 recipients of a Global Leadership Award.

Dr Shaheed, Deputy Director of Essex’s world-leading Human Rights Centre, will accept the Leo Nevas Human Rights Award on 3 November at the Global Leadership Dinner in New York.

He is being honoured for his work as United Nations Special Rapporteur on the Human Rights Situation in Iran.

  • Watch this video, in which Dr Shaheed explains his work as UN Special Rapporteur, and others on our Vimeo channel

The annual awards event honours individuals and corporations for their global leadership in advancing the purposes and principles of the United Nations (UN). Other 2015 award recipients include UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-Moon.

Dr Shaheed said: “I am both honoured and humbled by this award and dedicate it to all those who are working with me to promote human rights— from human rights defenders from Iran, to colleagues and associates directly collaborating with me on the Iran mandate. I also dedicate this award to my colleagues at Essex who have set such high standards in international human rights work and are a real source of inspiration to me.”

Previous recipients of the Leo Nevas Human Rights Award have included Pulitzer-Prize-winner and US Ambassador to the UN Samantha Power, ranked 49th in the 2015 Forbes 100 Most Powerful Women, and High Court Judge and human rights advocate Michael Kirby, who chaired the UN commission of inquiry into human rights in North Korea in 2014.

Professor Sir Nigel Rodley, Chair of the Human Rights Centre, said: “I knew Leo Nevas in the 1970s when he was promoting international human rights through the United Nations Association of the USA and I was working for Amnesty International. I didn't know then that, in addition to being a highly successful practising lawyer, he had fought against anti-Semitism in the United States in the 1930s and 1940s when it was rife. A human rights prize in his name means something special and I can't think of a more deserving recipient than our eminent colleague Dr Ahmed Shaheed.”

Dr Shaheed, who teaches postgraduate students at Essex and is also a member of the School of Law, is an internationally recognised expert on foreign policy, international diplomacy, democratisation and human rights reform especially in Muslim states.

He has twice held the Office of Minister of Foreign Affairs of the Republic of the Maldives, during which time he played a leading role in the democratic transition and in the country’s human rights reform process. He was awarded his UN mandate in 2011 and joined the University of Essex in 2012.

...more news releases