2023 Bolch Prize for the Rule of Law

2023 Bolch Prize for the Rule of Law

The Bolch Judicial Institute at Duke University School of Law has awarded the International Association of Women Judges (IAWJ) the 2023 Bolch Prize for the Rule of Law. This award is given annually to honor an individual or organization for their extraordinary efforts to advance and protect the rule of law.

The IAWJ, a network of judges from around the globe dedicated to equal justice and the rule of law, was selected for their ongoing efforts to evacuate and resettle its 250 members from Afghanistan following the Taliban’s governmental takeover in 2021. Even prior to the return of the Taliban’s rule, women judges often faced threats of violence. The work done under the previous government—the development and administration of new courts, bringing equality and justice under the law to women and girls, and making judgements on men—are now punishable offenses. The IAWJ began evacuating judges in August of 2021 and have successfully extracted 200 of their members. They are working to remove those who still remain in the country.

The IAWJ received the Bolch Prize in a ceremony at the Nasher Museum of Art. Several ALI members who spoke during the ceremony are listed below:

  • Kerry Abrams of Duke Law
  • Allyson K. Duncan of U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fourth Circuit (Retired)
  • Paul W. Grimm of Duke Law
  • David F. Levi of Duke Law
  • Paul Martin Newby of Supreme Court of North Carolina

“Even before the Taliban retook power, two women judges of Afghanistan’s Supreme Court had been assassinated,” said Levi during the event. “Women judges had long faced discrimination and threats from defendants in their courts and even from people with whom they worked. They were battling years of oppression in a culture that expected women to defer to men, to stay in the home, and to stay out of the public eye. These women judges had defied these expectations and had dared to sit in judgment of men.”

The full ceremony may be viewed on Duke Law’s Youtube channel, ©2023 Duke University School of Law.

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