The World Justice Project Honors Shirin Ebadi and BRAC for Visionary Leadership in Advancing the Rule of Law

Iranian lawyer and Nobel Peace Prize laureate Dr. Shirin Ebadi recognized for efforts to expand rights for women, children, and refugees; BRAC recognized for scaling innovative education, legal empowerment, and poverty alleviation programs to more than 120 million people across 11 countries


THE HAGUE, NETHERLANDS – The World Justice Project (WJP), an independent, global organization working to advance the rule of law worldwide, today announced the winners of the WJP Rule of Law Award. The award recognizes revolutionary achievements by individuals or organizations to advance the rule of law in some of the most vulnerable communities worldwide.

The award recipients are Dr. Shirin Ebadi, Iranian lawyer and Nobel Peace Prize laureate, for her efforts to advance democracy and human rights, particularly for women, girls, and refugees; and BRAC (formerly the Bangladesh Rural Advancement Committee), a global leader in creating opportunity for the world’s poor. Both winners were honored today at a special session at the World Justice Forum IV, currently underway in The Hague. 

“We are very pleased to honor Dr. Shirin Ebadi and BRAC for their visionary leadership in strengthening the rule of law,” said William H. Neukom, founder and CEO of The World Justice Project. “Dr. Ebadi’s visionary passion, resilience, and appreciation for the rule of law are a true inspiration to the world. And BRAC has demonstrated it is an organization that is constantly pushing the boundaries as it collaborates with communities to create life-saving programs that work.”

The first female judge in Iranian history, Ebadi was removed from her post after the 1979 Revolution, when women were deemed unfit to serve as judges. She is known for taking the cases of persecuted dissidents, for defending children’s and women’s rights, and for speaking out against human rights violations of the current government. Ebadi also founded two rights organizations in Iran – The Society for Protecting the Rights of the Child (SPRC) and the Defenders of Human Rights Center (DHRC) which provides pro-bono defense to individuals accused of political crimes or prisoners of conscience.  In 2003, she became the first Muslim woman to win the Nobel Peace Prize in its 102-year history. In 2004, she was named by Forbes Magazine as one of the 100 most powerful women in the world and in January 2006, along with sister Laureate Jody Williams, Ebadi took the lead in establishing the Nobel Women's Initiative.

Based in Bangladesh, BRAC is a global leader in creating opportunity for the world’s poor, today reaching more than 126 million people across 11 countries. What started out as a limited relief operation in 1972 in a remote village of Bangladesh has turned into the largest development organization in the world. Organizing the poor using communities’ own human and material resources, BRAC catalyzes lasting change, creating an ecosystem in which the poor have the chance to seize control of their own lives. BRAC’s primary schools are a safety net for children who drop out of state schools. BRAC also has the world’s largest legal-aid program: there are more BRAC legal centers than police stations in Bangladesh. Leaders the world over have praised BRAC for being one of the most effective development organizations in the world—proof that people with vision and commitment can change the world. 

The WJP Rule of Law Award ceremony will take place at the World Justice Forum IV – a global gathering designed to improve the state of the world by engaging leaders, dignitaries, and innovators from more than 120 countries to address critical rule of law issues related to economic development, technology, supply chains, women’s rights, freedom of expression, and more.

“What the Iranian people want is democracy in the true sense of the word. I am sure this award will empower and strengthen those who work in order to establish democracy and the rule of law,” said Dr. Ebadi. “I feel honored to accept this award on behalf of myself as an Iranian activist, and also all activists in the Middle East.”

Accepting the award for BRAC was Dr. Faustina Pereira, Director, Human Rights and Legal Aid Services.

“I accept this award on behalf of our founder, Fazle Hasan Abed, and the whole BRAC family—in particular our 12,000 barefoot lawyers,” she said. “I am but a mouthpiece for the several hundred grassroots workers who are upholding the rule of law, sometimes at personal risk. They are the ones who provide the hard work that makes the difference in their communities, families, and countries in which they work.”


About the World Justice Project

The World Justice Project (WJP) is an independent, non‐profit organization working to advance the rule of law around the world. Establishing the rule of law is fundamental to achieving communities of opportunity and equity—communities that offer sustainable economic development, accountable government, and respect for fundamental rights. Our multi-national, multi-disciplinary efforts are dedicated to stimulating government reforms, developing practical programs at the community level, and increasing public awareness about the concept and practice of the rule of law. For more information about the World Justice Project, please visit

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