GENEVA, April 1 — UN Watch is proud to announce that Spanish journalist and human rights activist Pilar Rahola will be the 2011 recipient of the Geneva-based human rights group’s Morris B. Abram Human Rights Award.
The prize honors the legacy of the late U.S. civil rights advocate and diplomat, born in the American South, who founded UN Watch in 1993 after serving at the United Nations in Geneva. The prize will be presented at the organization’s 18th Anniversary Gala Dinner next week.
Ms. Rahola was chosen for her tireless championing of the rights of women and children, defending the rule of law, and combating intolerance, racism and anti-Semitism.
As a member of the Spanish national parliament from 1993 to 2000, Ms. Rahola fought political corruption, working on the Roldán Commission. In recognition of her investigation of government wrong-doing, she received the parliamentary prize, “Azote del Gobierno” (“Scourge of Government”). Since leaving politics for journalism, Ms. Rahola has become a regular columnist at La Vanguardia in Spain, La Nacion in Argentina, and Diario de America in the U.S, as well as a frequent participant in radio and television programs.
Ms. Rahola’s work on women’s rights includes her authorship of the 2000 book “Mujer Liberada, Hombre Cabreado” (Liberated Woman, Bad-Tempered Man). She also wrote “Historia de Ada: Los Derechos Pisoteados de los Ninos” (Ada’s Story: The Violation of Children’s Rights), a 2002 book commissioned by Oxfam International that confronted the critical issues of child prostitution, AIDS, child labor, and child soldiers.
The book’s name comes from Ms. Rahola’s reflection on what might have become of her own daughter, Ada, whom she adopted in 2001, had she remained in a Siberian orphanage. It also explores the state of children’s rights worldwide through the stories of individuals. Her 1993 adoption of a son, Noe, inspired her to write the book “Letter to My Adopted Son,” which relates the fears, struggles, and yearning of her experience. The book has become a classic text on adoption.
Ms. Rahola has been an outspoken opponent of contemporary manifestations of anti-Semitism and other forms of intolerance. In 2003 she was awarded the “Betera en Lilà” prize for her struggle against gender inequality and violence. In 2004, she was awarded an honorary doctorate from the University of Santiago de Chile for championing fundamental human rights. She has been recognized by many others for her commitment to the principles of human rights, democracy and anti-racism.
Rahola is also a vigorous opponent of the inhumane treatment of animals. Her columns in La Vanguardia and other newspapers have sharply criticized bullfighting and other forms of animal abuse. She has been active with the Association Defensa Derechos Animal, a leading Spanish NGO for the well-being of animals, and Fundación Altarriba – Amigos de los Animales, an animal welfare foundation.
Previous recipients of UN Watch human rights awards include Esther Mujawayo, an activist for victims of the genocide in Rwanda; Nazanin Afshin-Jam, the founder and president of Stop Child Executions; and Dr. Massouda Jalal, the first woman in Afghanistan to run for president and to serve as Minister for Women’s Affairs.