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Shirin Ebadi

Shirin Ebadi

Dr. Shirin Ebadi is an Iranian lawyer, former judge and human rights activist. On 10 October 2003, Dr. Ebadi was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize for her significant and pioneering efforts for democracy and human rights, especially women's, children's and refugee rights. She was the first Iranian to ever receive the prize. In 2009, Dr. Ebadi's award was allegedly confiscated by Iranian authorities, though this was later denied by the Iranian government. If true, she would be the first person in the history of the Nobel Prize whose award has been forcibly seized by state authorities.

Dr. Ebadi became Iran's first female judge when she was just 23 years old. She also became the first Iranian and first Muslim woman to be awarded the Nobel Peace Prize. Despite initially supporting the Iranian revolution like many Iranians, Dr. Ebadi soon became its scourge. Although described as "the worst nightmare of Iran's hardline clerics", her fight for human rights, particularly those for women, is not anti-religion. "I am against patriarchy, not Islam," she says.

Demoted to a secretary in her own court by the regime, which considered women unsuitable to be judges, she set up her own pro-bono law practice to focus on injustices in the legal system, acting for political dissidents and on child-abuse cases.

Despite being put on a death list by the regime, her brother-in-law being executed, and enduring solitary confinement, Dr. Ebadi became the country's most high-profile human rights activist, founding the Human Rights Defenders Center and helping to found the One Million Signatures Campaign. This grassroots campaign collected 1 million signatures from women in support of changing discriminatory laws. The campaign has won numerous international prizes (including the 2009 Reach All Women in War Anna Politkovskaya Award), but its members have also been harassed and even jailed.

Dr. Ebadi lived in Tehran, but she has been in exile since June 2009 due to increased persecution of Iranian citizens who are critical of the current regime. In 2004, she was listed by Forbes Magazine as one of the "100 most powerful women in the world". She is also included in a published list of the "100 most influential women of all time."

 

THE AURORA PRIZE SELECTION COMMITTEE

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Elie Wiesel (1928 – 2016)

First Co-Chair

President of the Elie Wiesel Foundation for Humanity; Nobel Laureate

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Lord Ara Darzi

Chair

Director of the Institute of Global Health Innovation at Imperial College London

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George Clooney

Honorary Co-Chair

Co-founder, The Sentry; Humanitarian, performer and film maker

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Benjamin Ferencz

Honorary Co-Chair

Lawyer, Human Rights Activist

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Shirin Ebadi

Member

Human Rights Lawyer and Iran's first female judge; Nobel Laureate

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Leymah Gbowee

Member

Nobel Laureate, Liberian peace activist and women’s rights advocate

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Vartan Gregorian
(1934 - 2021)

Member

Co-founder, Aurora Humanitarian Initiative; President of the Carnegie Corporation of New York

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Hina Jilani

Member

Former United Nations Special Representative of the Secretary-General on Human Rights Defenders

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Bernard Kouchner

Member

Co-founder, Médecins Sans Frontières; Former French Foreign Minister

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Paul Polman

Member

Co-founder and Chair, IMAGINE; former CEO, Unilever

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John Prendergast

Member

Human Rights Activist and Co-founder, The Sentry

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Mary Robinson

Member

Former UN High Commissioner for Human Rights; Former President of Ireland

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Ernesto Zedillo

Member

Director, Yale Center for the Study of Globalization; Former President of Mexico

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Oscar Arias

Honorary Member

Two-time President of Costa Rica; Nobel Laureate

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Valery Gergiev

Honorary Member

Artistic and General Director, Mariinsky Theatre; Principal Conductor of the Munich Philharmoniker

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Gareth Evans

Honorary Member

President Emeritus of the International Crisis Group; Former Australian Foreign Minister

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Elie Wiesel (1928 – 2016)

First Co-Chair

President of the Elie Wiesel Foundation for Humanity; Nobel Laureate

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Lord Ara Darzi

Chair

Director of the Institute of Global Health Innovation at Imperial College London