UNA-USA Honors Human Rights Activists

Leo Nevas Awards Presented to Dr. Asma Jahangir and Karen Woodin-Rodriguez

November 9, 2011
NEW YORK– The United Nations Association of the USA (UNA-USA) Leo Nevas Human Rights Task Force awarded Dr. Asma Jahangir with the 2011 Leo Nevas Human Rights Award.  Jahangir, former UN Special Rapporteur and prominent human rights lawyer, spoke to a large audience today about the challenges she faced as an international monitor on human rights and as an activist promoting domestic reforms and rule of law in Pakistan. The award is the highest honor of the Leo Nevas Human Rights Program, an initiative of UNA-USA that promotes human rights as an essential component of U.S. policy at the United Nations.

“Asma Jahangir’s efforts to uphold respect for human rights in the face of threats, intimidation, and attempts to silence her are an inspiration to all of us,” said Felice D. Gaer, chair of the Leo Nevas Human Rights Task Force. “As a courageous, internationally acclaimed human rights champion of the downtrodden, she has travelled to every corner of the globe to shine a light on abuse and raise the awareness of all concerned members of the United Nations. It is an honor to award the 2011 Leo Nevas Human Rights Award to Asma for her work as a UN Special Rapporteur and as Pakistan's most celebrated human rights lawyer.”


Dr. Jahangir served both as UN special rapporteur on extrajudicial, summary, or arbitrary execution, and more recently as Special Rapporteur on freedom of religion or belief. She was twice elected as Chairperson of the Human Rights Commission of Pakistan. She recently completed her term as President of the Supreme Court Bar Association of Pakistan, and has a long history of leadership at human rights, law, and women’s rights organizations. She was placed under house arrest, and later imprisoned, in Pakistan for participating in the movement to restore political and fundamental rights under the military regime in 1983. She has been frequently threatened by militants due to her efforts to secure justice for disadvantaged groups.


In addition to Dr. Jahangir’s presentation, the event at the Grand Hyatt in New York City featured the acceptance of the Leo Nevas Human Rights Youth Award by Karen Woodin-Rodriguez. She has worked to promote human rights in the Americas. In spring 2010, working for the Human Rights Foundation, she authored a report on political prosecution in Venezuela and aided in the planning of the Oslo Freedom Forum, an annual global gathering of human rights activists. She has been an active participant in UNA-USA’s Global Classrooms® program, and has led several Model UN conferences, as well as been a strong advocate for equal rights in the LGBTQ community.


“UNA-USA honors Dr. Jahangir and Ms. Woodin-Rodriguez as part of our ongoing efforts to uplift human rights around the world,” said UNA-USA Executive Director Patrick Madden. “They have shown incredible dedication to raising awareness of the UN’s efforts in the area of human rights.”


The Leo Nevas Human Rights Award and Human Rights Youth Award have been presented annually since 2007, the year The Leo Nevas Program on Human Rights was established in honor of UNA-USA’s longest-serving board member. The Leo Nevas Human Rights Task Force is a team of citizens knowledgeable and vitally concerned about the role of the UN and the U.S. in protecting international human rights for all. For questions please contact Joe Catapano at More information on UNA-USA’s Leo Nevas Program is available at



The United Nations Association of the United States of America (UNA-USA), a program of the UN Foundation, is a membership organization dedicated to inform, inspire and mobilize the American people to support the principles and vital work of the United Nations. UNA-USA works to accomplish its mission through its national network of chapters, advocacy efforts, education programs, and public events. UNA-USA and the UN Foundation create the single largest network of advocates and supporters of the United Nations in the world. For more information on UNA-USA, visit


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