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2008 Gruber Justice Prize

Working within the international justice system, Judge Thomas Buergenthal and Jerome J. Shestack have dedicated their lives to upholding the rule of law and ending human rights abuses perpetrated by antidemocratic regimes on several continents.

2008 Justice Prize Recipients

Laureate Profile

Judge Thomas Buergenthal, the American judge on the International Court of Justice, was also judge and president of the Inter-American Court of Human Rights, where he helped put an end to the practice of disappearances in Honduras and safeguard the lives of human rights activists in Guatemala. As Commissioner of the United Nations Truth Commission for El Salvador, he investigated human rights violations committed in that country during its civil war. A survivor of Auschwitz and Sachsenhausen, Judge Buergenthal was the first full-time chairman (1997-2000) of the Committee on Conscience of the United States Holocaust Memorial Council and has been a strong voice against genocide and crimes against humanity in different parts of the world. He has played a major role in the introduction of international human rights courses and seminars in American law schools.

Jerome J. Shestack, former president of the American Bar Association, established a Working Group at the UN Commission on Human Rights that helped end the practice of disappearances in Argentina, Chile, and Brazil. He has helped end institutionalized race and gender discrimination in the US and ethnic cleansing in Bosnia and elsewhere. Through the International Criminal Court (which he helped create) and the International League for Human Rights (which he chaired), Shestack mobilized world opinion against injustice and human rights abuses on several continents. He successfully defended dissidents in the former Soviet Union and South Africa. A former member of the Executive Council of the Holocaust Museum in Washington, he helped marshal protests against the genocide in Sudan. He has served as a mentor to a generation of human rights lawyers.

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The 2008 Justice Prize of the Peter and Patricia Gruber Foundation is proudly presented to Jerome Shestack and Thomas Buergenthal, two human rights advocates who are pioneers in the fight for justice and human rights throughout the world.

They have demonstrated an unwavering commitment to creating a world in which both governments and citizens protect and honor individualized freedom and human dignity while vigilantly fighting against social injustice and human rights abuses.

Amid great challenges, Thomas Buergenthal and Jerome Shestack made tremendous and lasting contributions to creating a just rule of law and changing the landscape of human rights advocacy. Through their staunch advocacy, they influenced the thinking of government officials, policymakers, educational institutions, and the general public around the world, and brought these figures into the struggle for human rights.

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