The American Society of International Law (ASIL) has honored Felice Gaer, Director of American Jewish Committee’s (AJC’s) Jacob Blaustein Institute for the Advancement of Human Rights, with the organization’s 2023 Honorary Member Award.

The award was presented to Gaer today at ASIL’s annual meeting in recognition of her “critically important contributions” to the development, interpretation, and implementation of international human rights law, including in the areas of prevention of torture, women’s human rights and freedom of religion or belief.

In a letter conferring the award, ASIL President Gregory Shaffer and Executive Director Michael D. Cooper said, “Your distinguished service in the field of international law across several fields has been extensive, courageous, tireless, and transformative.”

“I am glad to have been able to enhance international legal principles for women, for religious minorities, including Jews, for victims of abuse, and so many others. I have worked through U.S bodies and the United Nations, and this engagement remains essential,” said Gaer. “This is no ordinary time. It’s a time to weigh what more we can do for this country and for the world, a time to act, using the principles of international law and of human rights.”

ASIL noted that Gaer, as Director of AJC’s Jacob Blaustein Institute for the Advancement of Human Rights for 30 years, has worked to strengthen the UN human rights system, provide support to Special Procedures mandate holders, and defend the universality of human rights.

She was appointed to the U.S. Commission on International Religious Freedom, serving five terms (three as chair and two as vice chair), and was the first American elected to the UN Committee Against Torture, where she served from 2000-2019, including as Vice-Chair. In recommending her for the award, ASIL’s Honors Committee lauded Gaer’s extensive work to expand the Committee against Torture’s jurisprudence on gender-specific aspects of torture and ill-treatment.

The ASIL Honorary Member Award is conferred on an individual who has rendered distinguished contributions or service in the field of international law. Previous recipients include UN Secretaries General Kofi Annan and Boutros Boutros-Ghali.

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