Campus News

March 22, 2010

New award to honor human rights champions

The recent observance of the 9th annual Human Rights Week at Emory focused attention on the issue of sustainability as a human right. Next year, Human Rights Week will shine a new spotlight on the first recipients of the Philip Eegbara Kara and Ken Saro Wiwa Award for Outstanding Service in Human and Environmental Rights at Emory.

The Institute of Human Rights at Emory is establishing the new award to recognize outstanding service and leadership among students, faculty and staff in the promotion and protection of human and environmental rights both locally and globally. 

“The award is going to recognize people in the Emory community who are either doing research or service components of human rights activities,” says IHR Director Dabney Evans, aligning with the institute’s mission. “There’s a ripple effect to what they’re doing that connects Emory to the rest of the world.”

The first award will be bestowed in spring 2011, with student, faculty and staff recipients announced and recognized during Human Rights Week.

“Every year during Human Rights Week at Emory, the new award will help forge several important links,” says Kenneth Maes, the anthropology graduate student who is spearheading the award’s establishment, “between protecting both human rights and the environments in which we live; between students, staff and faculty at Emory working toward protecting human and environmental rights; and between local and global communities.”

The award is named to honor Ken Saro-Wiwa, the late Nigerian leader of the Movement for the Survival of the Ogoni People; and Philip Kara, a political refugee from Nigeria and Emory staff member who passed away in August.

“The impetus for creating the award, first and foremost, was to create a lasting way to remember a friendly, humble and passionate man, Philip Kara,” says Maes, who worked with Kara, a community service officer with the Emory Police Department, to organize Emory’s Human Rights Week in 2007. Kara was a campus leader who brought together a diverse group of Emory staff and students to found the Niger Delta Justice Network, which focused on raising awareness and protecting human and environmental rights in the oil-rich Niger River Delta.

“With the names of these two individuals, one who was a global figure and the other who was a member of our own Emory community, we can demonstrate an important lesson - that there are lots of ways people can be involved in human rights in their own communities,” says Evans.

Each award will include a modest monetary prize of $250 per recipient. The institute is seeking donations from within and beyond Emory to endow the award in time for its 2011 inauguration. Donors will have the opportunity to nominate a representative from their department or program to serve on the award’s Deciding Committee, notes Evans.

“By encouraging nominations of persons from various backgrounds, the award will help promote diversity at Emory and contribute to Emory’s mission of engaging with global citizens and programs, particularly those that advocate for the protection of human and environmental rights,” says Maes.

Look for a campus-wide call for nominations in future issues of Emory Report.

Help endow the award
To support the Philip Eegbara Kara and Ken Saro Wiwa Award for Outstanding Service in Human and Environmental Rights at Emory, contact Dabney Evans or Kenneth Maes.

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