Navi Pillay spearheaded the UN’s efforts to protect and promote fundamental human rights for all.
#SPICEPEOPLE: As a member of a non-white minority in apartheid South Africa, and as a front-line, grassroots lawyer who acted as a defense attorney for many anti-apartheid activists, Ms.Pillay has direct personal experience of many of the issues she covers.
In 1995, after the end of apartheid, Ms.Pillay was appointed as acting judge on the South African High Court, and in the same year was elected by the UN General Assembly to be a judge on the International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda, where she served a total of eight years, the last four as President. She played a critical role in the Tribunal’s ground-breaking jurisprudence on rape as war crime, as well as on issues of freedom of speech and hate propaganda. Afterwards, she served as a judge on the International Criminal Court in The Hague for five years.
In South Africa, Ms.Pillay contributed to the inclusion of the equality clause in the country’s Constitution that prohibits discrimination on grounds of race, gender, religion and sexual orientation. She co-founded Equality Now, an international women’s rights organization, and has been involved with other organizations working on issues relating to children, detainees, victims of torture and of domestic violence, and a range of economic, social and cultural rights.