Born and raised in South Africa, Bob became known for his active role and influence on the anti-apartheid movement. He practised as an advocate at the Johannesburg Bar and acted as legal advisor to Nelson Mandela in 1962. In 1963 Bob was arrested and co-accused, in the historical Rivonia Trial, with leaders of the African National Congress, and after a 90-day detention he managed to escape to England.
From his arrival in the UK in 1963 until well into his retirement, Bob’s work has been an inspiration to the equality and human rights community. Between 1963-2008 he held professorships at the University of Kent, University College London and Cambridge University. During this time he also became Chairman of Industrial Tribunals, Master of Clare College in Cambridge, and a Judge and Senior Vice-President of the UN Administrative Tribunal in 2007. He chaired the European Roma Rights Centre from 2002 to 2008 and the Nuffield Council on Bioethics from 2003 to 2007. He became a Fellow of the British Academy in 2003, and was knighted in 2004. Bob's work was critical in shaping the Sex Discrimination Act (1975) and the Race Relations Act (1976), as well as subsequent British equality legislation including the Equality Act 2010. His most recent book, Equality: a New Legal Framework (2011, second edition 2014) is not only an appraisal of the current legislation, but a reflection on the past, present and future of equality law.
Lord Lester of Herne Hill QC (Chair 2005 - 2007)
Lord Lester of Herne Hill QC is the founding Chair of the Equal Rights Trust. He stepped down from his post in October 2007, to avoid a conflict of interest arising from his appointment as advisor to the UK Prime Minister on constitutional reform.
Lord Lester is a practising member of Blackstone Chambers, and a Liberal Democrat Peer. He specialises in public law and European human rights law. He was Special Adviser to the Home Secretary (Roy Jenkins) from 1974-76 with responsibility for policy advice on human rights. He introduced two Private Members' Bills in the Lords to incorporate the European Human Rights Convention into UK law. He has argued many leading cases (including cases on free speech and on discrimination) not only before English courts, but also before both European courts and Commonwealth courts. He is a member of the Parliamentary Joint Committee on Human Rights and a House of Lords' European Law Scrutiny Committee.
Lord Lester is the Honorary President of INTERIGHTS (the International Centre for the Legal Protection of Human Rights), and has published numerous books and articles on constitutional law and human rights. He is also a member of the Executive Board of the Open Society Institute Justice Initiative.
Ambassador Thomas Hammarberg (2006 - 2008)
Ambassador Thomas Hammarberg was elected Commissioner for Human Rights on 5 October 2005 by the Council of Europe's Parliamentary Assembly. He took up his position on 1 April 2006, succeeding the first Commissioner, Mr Alvaro Gil-Robles.?Prior to his appointment, he spent several decades working on the advancement of human rights in Europe and worldwide. He has held the key posts of Secretary General of the Stockholm-based Olof Palme International Center (2002-05), Ambassador of the Swedish Government on Humanitarian Affairs (1994-2002), Secretary General of "Save the Children" Sweden (1986-92), and Secretary General of the London-based Amnesty International (1980-86).
Mr Hammarberg also held several special positions during these years. In 2001-03, he served as Regional Adviser for Europe, Central Asia and the Caucasus for the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights. For several years, he was the Swedish Prime Minister's Personal Representative for the UN Special Session on Children, as well as the Convener of the Aspen Institute Roundtables on "Human Rights in Peace Missions". Between 1996 and 2000, he was Kofi Annan's appointed representative (SRSG) for human rights in Cambodia. He also participated in the work of the Refugee Working Group of the multilateral Middle East Peace Process.
Over the past 25 years, Mr Hammarberg has published widely on various human rights issues, particularly on children's rights, refugee policy, minority issues, xenophobia, Roma rights as well as international affairs and security. He is also well known for his presentations and lectures on human rights at various governmental and academic institutions.
Dr Joseph C. Schull (2006 - 2008)
Dr Joseph C. Schull is Managing Director of the Warburg Pincus, based in London. He has been with Warburg Pincus since 1998 and is responsible for European Media and Central and Eastern Europe operations. He holds a B.A. and M.A. from McGill University, where he studied politics, philosophy and economics.
He received a D.Phil from Oxford University, where he was University Lecturer in Soviet and East European Studies from 1990 to 1991. Prior to joining Warburg Pincus, he was Deputy Director for Russia and Eastern Europe at the Ford Foundation. Dr. Schull is a director of Loyalty Management U.K., Air Miles International Trading, RBMH Broadcast Media Holdings and Fibernet Communications.
Ms Sonia Picado (2006 - 2009)
Ms Sonia Picado is Chair of the Board of the Inter-American Institute of Human Rights. She is a former member of the Legislative Assembly of Costa Rica from San José and former President of the National Liberation Party. In 1999, she led the International Commission of Inquiry on East Timor to study human rights abuses there.
She was the Costa Rican Ambassador to the United States from 1994 to 1998 and the Executive Director of the Inter-American Institute of Human Rights from 1984 to 1994. During 1988 to 1994, she was Judge and Vice-Chair of the Inter-American Court of Human Rights. Ms. Picado was the first woman elected in Latin America as the Dean of a Law School (the University of Costa Rica) in 1980. She has taught at Salzburg, Austria, the Inter-American Institute of Human Rights, the University of Dayton (Ohio, US), the World University Service in Austria, and Columbia University, among others.
Ms Shami Chakrabarti (2006 - 2008)
Ms Shami Chakrabarti has been the director of Liberty (The National Council for Civil Liberties) since September 2003.
After graduating from the London School of Economics, she worked as a barrister at the Home Office from 1996 until 2001.She joined Liberty on 10 September 2001, and she spent the following two years campaigning against the anti-terrorist measures which followed the September 11, 2001 attacks in the United States, such as Anti-terrorism, Crime and Security Act 2001 (ATCSA), and is a prominent opponent of recent counter-terrorism legislation. She is a frequent contributor to BBC Radio 4 and to The Independent newspaper on the topic of human rights and civil liberties.
Since becoming Liberty's Director, Ms Chakrabarti has written, spoken and broadcast widely on the importance of the post-World War II human rights framework as an essential component of democratic society. She is a Governor of the London School of Economics and the British Film Institute, a Visiting Fellow of Nuffield College, Oxford and a Master of the Bench of Middle Temple. Ms Chakrabarti was awarded a Doctor of Laws honoris causa from Roehampton University in 2006 and an Honorary Doctor of Law degree from the University of East Anglia in June 2007. She was appointed CBE in the Queen's Birthday Honours 2007.
Asma Khader (2011-2014)
Asma Khader is a Jordanian lawyer and human rights activist who has sought to expand the rights of women and children, particularly within Arab and Islamic cultures. She has established a number of prominent organisations and worked with many commissions, international legal groups, and human rights organisations.
Ms Khader was born in 1952 to a Palestinian Christian family in the northern West Bank village of Zababida. She graduated from the University of Damascus in Syria with a law degree in 1977. She has been active in legal unions, served two terms as president of the Jordanian Women's Union, and has been involved with the Jordanian and Arab Lawyers Unions.
She founded Mizan Law Group for Human Rights in Jordan, the Jordanian branch of the International Commission of Jurists, in 1998, and she serves on the executive committee of the International Commission of Jurists. She was a founding member of the Arab Association for Human Rights and a member of board of the Jordanian National Centre for Human Rights. In 1998 she founded the Sisterhood Is Global Institute, Jordan.
In October 2003, she was appointed minister without portfolio and spokesperson for the Jordanian government. Ms Khader served as minister in 2003 and 2004, then as minister of culture in 2004 and 2005. She is currently Secretary-General of the Jordanian National Commission for Women.
In 1990, Asma Khader received an Award of Honor from Human Rights Watch. She was awarded the Jordanian Independence Medal in 1991, and in 2003 she received the UNDP's Poverty Eradication Award in the Arab states.
Theodore M. Shaw was director-counsel and president of the NAACP Legal Defence and Educational Fund (LDF), the premier civil rights law firm in the United States, from 2004 to 2008. In March 2008 the Columbia Law School faculty appointed him as a professor of professional practice, teaching civil procedure and constitutional law.
Shaw, one of the nation’s leading voices in civil rights, joined LDF in 1982 and in 2004 became the fifth person to lead the organisation. While at LDF, he was lead counsel in a coalition that represented African-American and Latino students in the University of Michigan undergraduate affirmative action admissions case. That case, Gratz v. Bollinger, went before the United States Supreme Court in 2003, along with Grutter v. Bollinger, which challenged the use of affirmative action at The University of Michigan Law School.
Shaw worked as a trial attorney in the Civil Rights Division of the U.S. Department of Justice from 1979 to 1982, where he litigated civil rights cases at the trial and appellate levels and at the U.S. Supreme Court. He currently serves on the Legal Advisory Network of the European Roma Rights Council based in Budapest, Hungary. Shaw previously has taught at Columbia, University of Michigan, Temple and CUNY law schools. He is the recipient of the Wien Prize for Social Responsibility from Columbia Law School; the A. Leon Higginbotham, Jr., Memorial Award from the National Bar Association Young Lawyers Division; and the Baldwin Medal from the Wesleyan University alumni body.
Deborah Harding was Vice President of the Open Society Institute starting in 1996. She oversaw some 30 international foundations in the Soros network. In 2001, she was charged with developing network-wide civil society and Roma programmes. She retired in 2005. From 1989-1996 at the German Marshall Fund, she managed the Fund’s Political Development in Central and Eastern Europe programme. From 1980-1986, she was the first executive director of the newly established Peace Corps Institute, the executive director of the National Women’s Political Caucus, and was a consultant in accelerated project startup and strategic planning to U.S. organizations working in Africa.
Under the aegis of Father Ted Hesburgh and Mrs. Rosalyn Carter, Dr. Harding directed the Cambodia Crisis Center, part of a successful effort to raise $100 million in support of 19 U.S. private relief agencies operating in Cambodia and along the Thai border from 1979-1980. From 1962-1979, she served as a technical consultant in 23 sub-Saharan countries to the Peace Corps, served as deputy director in Cameroon, directed the Peace Corps Office of Volunteer Placement in DC, and served as a Special Assistant to two Peace Corps directors.
She earned an M.A. and Ph.D. in Theoretical Linguistics at the University of California at Los Angeles with an area specialty in the Bantu language group. She is a member of the Council on Foreign Relations and has served on a number of international and domestic NGO boards. She joined the board of the Finca Vigia Foundation in 2012 which supports the restoration of the Earnest Hemingway house and archives in Havana, Cuba.
In 2006, she set up and runs the Liberian Education Trust to help rebuild the basic education infrastructure destroyed by the civil wars at the request of Ellen Johnson Sirleaf, President of Liberia. In 2013, she was named Dame Grand Commander of the Humane Order of African Redemption by President Sirleaf for her support of the Liberian people over 28 years; and, in 2012 she was honored with the Knight's Cross, Order of Merit of the Republic of Poland, by the president of Poland for her support of Polish democracy.
Dr Gay McDougall is Distinguished Scholar in Residence at Washington College of Law, American University. Since 2005 Dr McDougall has served as Independent Expert on Minority Issues at the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights in Geneva. Prior to that she was Executive Director of Global Rights during which time she was awarded a MacArthur Foundation Fellowship for her innovative and highly effective work on behalf of international human rights. Ms McDougall also holds numerous awards from national civil rights organisations.
From 1997 to 2001 she served as an independent expert on various United Nations human rights bodies, including the UN treaty body that oversees the International Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Racial Discrimination. Dr McDougall also served as one of five international members of South Africa's 16-member Independent Electoral Commission which successfully organised and administered the country's first non-racial elections in 1994.
From 1980 to 1994 she was Director of the Southern Africa Project of the Lawyer's Committee for Civil Rights under Law in Washington and in 1984 a Consultant on the United Nations Council for Namibia. She earned her JD at Yale University Law School and LLM in public international law at the London School of Economics and Political Science.
In 2015 Dr McDougall was elected by 128 countries to serve a four year term as an Independent Expert on the UN Committee on the Elimination of Racial Discrimination. Her term will begin in January 2016.
Sonia Corrêa is a prominent advocate of equal rights irrespective of gender and sexuality. Since 2002, with Richard Parker, she co-chairs Sexuality Policy Watch (SPW), a global forum comprising researchers and activists engaged in the analyses of global trends in sexuality-related policy and politics. In 2006, she played a key role in the expert group that finalised the Yogyakarta Principles. She is the founder of SOS-Corpo - Instituto Feminista para Democracia and the Commission of Citizenship and Reproduction (CCR) in Brazil.
She has lectured in various academic institutions and extensively published in Portuguese and English. The list of her writings includes, among others, Population and Reproductive Rights: Feminist Perspectives from the South (Zed Books, 1994) and Sexuality, Health and Human Rights co-authored with Richard Parker and Rosalind Petchesky (Routledge, 2008).
Between 1992 and 2009 Sonia Corrêa was the research coordinator for sexual and reproductive health and rights at DAWN – Development Alternatives with Women for a new Era – a Southern Hemisphere feminist network. In this capacity, she closely followed United Nations negotiations directly impacting on gender and sexuality related matters: the International Conference on Population and Development (ICPD – Cairo 1994), the IV World Conference on Women (IV WCW –Beijing, 1995) and also the five and ten year review processes of these conferences.
Sonia Corrêa has a degree in Architecture and a post-graduate degree in Anthropology and lives in Rio de Janeiro.
The Honourable Claire L'Heureux-Dubé was appointed to the Supreme Court of Canada in 1987 after serving for fourteen years as a trial and appellate court judge. Her 50-year career in law is one marked by many achievements in family law and human rights issues. She has undertaken many roles in the legal profession as an advocate for equality and proponent for the fair administration of justice
She was appointed to the Superior Court of Quebec in 1973 and later to the Quebec Court of Appeal in 1979. From 1984 to 1990, she was President of the Quebec Association of Comparative Law. Madame L'Heureux-Dubé was Chairman of the Canadian Section of the International Commission of Jurists (1981-1983) and International President of the International Commission of Jurists (1998-2002), based in Geneva. In 1998, she received the Margaret Brent Women Lawyers of Achievement Award from the American Bar Association Commission on Women in the Profession. She is also an Honorary Member of the American College of Trial Lawyers.
Tapan Kumar Bose
Tapan Kumar Bose has been Secretary General of the South Asia Forum for Human Rights (SAFHR) in Nepal since 1997. He has built SAFHR into a unique public forum in South Asia for regional dialogues, advocacy campaigns, teaching and research. Its flagship the Human Rights and Peace Studies Orientation Course has a been a trail blazer in developing South Asian perspectives and an experimental pedagogy; its Peace Audit programme developed a conceptual framework and dialogue for auditing from a human rights perspective peace accords; its Women, Conflict and Peacebuilding programme was a pioneer in research on the gendered experiences of conflict and peacebuilding, and at the field level, in strengthening women's agency; its Media and Conflict programme enabled a peer review of the Media as an actor in reporting conflicts and produced research publications and a network of 'sensitized' media practitioners; its Refugee programme focused on the absence of legal norms and campaigned for adoption of national law for protection and a regional convention; the Minority Rights programme was designed as a regional campaign for promoting respect for the rights of ethnic, religious and linguistic minorities. SAFHR's dialogue forum on minorities brought out the first ever regional compendium on the status of minorities in the countries of South Asia.
Hywel Ceri Jones
Hywel Ceri Jones graduated in 1962 from the University of Wales. He held administrative posts at the University of Sussex, including deputy director of the Centre for Educational Technology and Curriculum Development, and served as part of the team that created the Open University. In 1973, he joined the European Commission as Head of Department for Education and Youth Policies where he was responsible for launching a range of flagship programs, including ERASMUS, COMETT, TEMPUS, LINGUA, PETRA, FORCE and YOUTH FOR EUROPE. In 1993, he was appointed as Deputy Director-general of the Directorate General for Employment, Social Policy and Industrial Relations of the European Commission, where he was responsible for the European Social Fund, and for external relations of the EU in the field of social policy; social protection, disability and equal opportunities policies. He was responsible for the design and development of Community Initiatives including: EQUAL, ADAPT and YOUTHSTART.
Since retiring from the European Commission, Hywel Ceri Jones has served both as senior social policy adviser and European adviser to the Secretary of State for Wales, chaired the Governing Board of the European Policy Centre (Brussels), and served as director of the Network of European Foundations (NEF). He is Adviser to the Freudenberg Foundation and to the European Forum on the inclusion of Roma in Europe, and is Co-Chairman of the European Consortium of Foundations on disability and human rights. He is a member of the steering group of the think-tank “Tomorrow’s Wales”. He has received numerous awards, including being made a “Commander of St Michael and St George” (CMG) for services in Europe, and doctorates from the universities of Sussex, Leuven and Ireland. He is an honorary fellow of Glyndwr University and the University of Wales Trinity Saint David.