Monday, March 26, 2007

You go grrl!

On this day, our own Diane Marie Amann (a.k.a. Grace O’Malley) receives an honorary doctorate in international criminal law from the University of Utrecht in the Netherlands. Professor Amann is only the third woman to have been so honored by the University’s law faculty, which bestowed an honorary degree on Eleanor Roosevelt in 1948, as she was completing her work on the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, and Winnie Mandela, who received an honorary degree when her then husband, Nelson Mandela, was imprisoned in South Africa. Please join me in extending to Professor Amann a heartfelt congratulations for this richly deserved honor!
Earlier this month 7 other leading lights in international law were honored in another Dutch city on International Women's Day. As Grace O'Malley reported on March 8, the Open Society Institute (OSI) honored 7 "Women Groundbreakers in the First International Courts." I had the privilege of emceeing the event honoring these truly remarkable women. The honorees included Judge Rosalyn Higgins, who is the first female President of the International Court of Justice--and remains the only female judge ever to serve on the ICJ. In contrast to the ICJ, where it took more than 60 years for women to reach the Court, women have played leadership roles in the contemporary generation of international criminal courts almost from the outset. The other OSI honorees--Hon. Louise Arbour; Ms. Carla del Ponte; Judges Elizabeth Odio Benito, Gabrielle Kirk McDonald, Navanethem Pillay, and Dorothee de Sampayo--have all served in leadership roles in the International Criminal Tribunals for Rwanda and the former Yugoslavia and/or the International Criminal Court.
One by one, the honorees are phenomenal. Together, they are an historic phenomenon. Each has used her leadership position to transform the abstract law of nations into an encompassing law of humanity. Notably, women have served as judges in every major case before an international criminal court that established a break-through precedent on gender-related violence. The impact of their work will reach across generations to come.

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