The international advocacy organisation, Global Witness, and two individuals, Mr. Anna Hazare and Dr. Sima Samar, have emerged finalists in the first University of British Columbia (UBC) Law Integrity Award.
The award, which is one of the largest awards in the world with a cash prize of $100,000, was established in October 2012 by UBC Law alumnus, Mr. Peter A. Allard, QC. The award is given to an individual, movement or organization that has shown exceptional courage and leadership in combating corruption and promoting human rights especially through issues related to transparency, accountability and the rule of law.
Mr. Allard said: “Our outstanding finalists exemplify the values of the Allard Prize through their extraordinary courage and leadership in promoting transparency, accountability and the rule of law in opposing corruption and promoting and protecting human rights.”
“In celebrating these achievements and remarkable stories, the Allard Prize strives to inspire others to take up the fight against abuses of power and the suppression of human rights, wherever they arise,” he added.
Global Witness is an international human rights group based in London and Washington and has worked to raise awareness about conflict issues which are driven by natural resource exploitation, such as the blood diamond trade in Africa and the industries that fund the Khmer Rouge in Cambodia. Global Witness also campaigns internationally against natural resource-related corruption and conflict using a number of countries as case studies – including Burma, Indonesia, Liberia, Sudan, Zimbabwe, Equatorial Guinea, Turkmenistan and the Ukraine.
Another finalist, Mr. Kisan Baburao Hazare popularly known as Anna Hazare, founded the organisation called India Against Corruption in 1991. Mr. Hazare is one of India’s most influential and renowned social and political activist and has led popular movements to enhance government transparency and to investigate and prosecute official corruption.
Mr. Hazare, in reaction to the announcement said: “I am very happy to know that I have been selected as a finalist for the Allard Prize for International Integrity. I have been fighting for the last 25 years against corruption, to decentralize the power in government and to increase public participation in the development of the country. The Allard Prize encourages me to further my work.”
Dr. Sima Samar, who is the third finalist, is an internationally celebrated advocate for human and women’s rights. She has worked to raise global awareness about the detrimental impact of corruption on the promotion and protection of Afghan human and women’s rights. She is the chairwoman of the Afghan Independent Human Rights Commission and a campaigner for the rights of women in her war-torn country.
A member of the minority Hazara people in Afghanistan, Dr. Samar fled to Pakistan as a refugee in 1979 during the Soviet invasion of the country. From Pakistan, she helped open the first hospital for women which are staffed by women. She founded the Shuhada Organization that at one time ran underground home school classes for girls. Currently, the organization operates 118 schools in Afghanistan and for Afghan refugees in Pakistan, as well as four hospitals and 15 clinics in both countries.
Dr. Samar said: “It is of course a pleasure and honour for me to be on the short list for the Allard Prize. In fact, it is the recognition of my struggle in a country like Afghanistan; recognition of the women who survive watching the loss of their loved ones and the destruction of their property and country. It gives me courage to continue the struggle and also provides security, as my life is in danger daily.”
The winner will be announced on September 25, 2013 at a ceremony at the UBC Faculty of Law at Allard Hall in Vancouver, British Columbia. The other two finalists will each be given Honourable Mention recognition and a $25,000 cash prize.
These three finalists were selected from a short list of six nominees, which also included: Peter Eigen, John Githongo and Chen Guangcheng.