Distinction in International Law and Affairs Award

Description: To honor outstanding efforts in the areas of international law and affairs.

Presented by: International Section

Date Presented:
  Annual Meeting in January

It has become traditional for the presentation of the award to be made in person during the luncheon of the International Law and Practice Section held during the annual meeting of the New York State Bar Association, and for the recipient to deliver accepting remarks immediately after the presentation.

Award Criteria: A major contribution during the year (or during an entire career) to the global development of international law or the rule of law; and a willingness to speak or send a suitable alternate to accept the award at the Annual Meeting.

2024 Award Recipient

Becca Heller
Chief Executive Officer and Co-Founder
International Refugee Assistance Project

Learn more: https://refugeerights.org/people/becca-heller

Past Recipients:

2023 Anna Ogrenchuk President of the Ukrainian Bar Association; Managing Partner of LCF Law Group; Ukraine Chapter Co-Chair of NYSBA’s International Section Ukraine
2022 Dennis W.H.Kwok Founding member of the Civic Party in Hong Kong Hong Kong
2021 United Nations Office for Disarmament Affairs (UNODA) Represented by Hon. Izumi Nakamitsu, Under-Secretary-General and High Representative for Disarmament Affairs
2020 Kenneth Standard NYSBA Past President (2004-2005) United States
2019 Charles E. Ramos Senior Justice for the Commercial Division in New York County United States
2018  Judge Iris Yassmin Barrios Aguilar  Former president of one of Guatemala’s High Risk Tribunals; She was the presiding judge in the case of Efraín Ríos Montt, a former dictator of Guatemala. In that trial Montt was found guilty of the genocide of indigenous Ixil Mayans; the verdict came in 2013. Guatemala
2017 Loretta A. Preska Senior Judge of the United States District Court for the Southern District of New York United States
2015 Judith S. Kaye Former Chief Judge of the New York State Court of Appeals United States
2013 Fiona Simpson Executive Director of Equality Effect Canada
2012 Peter Ackerman, Ph.D. In 2005 Ackerman became a director of the Institute for Strategic Studies’ IISS-US office; Founding Chair of the International Center on Nonviolent Conflict;  Co-wrote a study showing that non-violent action had been instrumental in 50 of 67 transitions to democracy since 1972, including in Chile, the Philippines and Poland. Britain
2011 Geoffrey Robertson QC Been on several human rights missions on behalf of Amnesty International, such as to Mozambique, Venda, Czechoslovakia, Malawi, Vietnam and South Africa; Sat as an appeal judge at the UN Special Court for Sierra Leone (until 2007) Australia
2006 Nicolas Michel United Nations Under-Secretary-General for Legal Affairs and UN Legal Counsel Switzerland
2005  Lauren D. Rachlin, Esq. Served by appointment of the U.S. Trade Representative and the U.S. Department of Commerce on the Industry Trade Advisory Committee on Customs and Trade Policy and was a U.S.-designated panelist on the NAFTA Chapter 19 Dispute Resolution Panel United States
2004 Hon. Thomas Buergenthal Former Judge of the International Court of Justice (2000-2010) Czechoslovakia
2003 Professor Eric E. Bergsten United Nations Commission on International Trade Law (UNCITRAL) Secretary, UNCITRAL and Chief, UN International Trade Law Branch 1985-1991 United States
2002 Arthur C. Helton, Esq. Founded and then directed the Forced Migration Projects at the Open Society Institute (1994) ; Served as program director of peace and conflict studies and senior fellow for refugee studies and preventive action at the Council on Foreign Relations in New York City (1999) United States
2001 Alice H. Henkin, Esq. United Nations Human Rights Committee United States
2000 Professor Ruth G. Wedgwood U.S. member of the United Nations to Human Rights Committee United States
1999 Peter H. Pfund, Esq Assistant Legal Adviser for Private International Law in the US Department of State (1979-1997) United States
1998 Albert H. Kritzer, Esq An authority on the United Nations Convention on Contracts for the International Sale of Goods (CISG) United States
1997  Secretary-General Boutros Boutros-Gali Secretary-General of the United Nations (1992-1996) Egypt
1995 Dag Hjalmar Agne Carl Hammarskjold Secretary-General of the United Nations (1953-1961) Sweden
1994 Hon. Johan Jorgen Hoist Minister of Foreign Affairs in France (1993-1994) France
1993 Hon. Cyrus R. Vance United Nations Special Envoy to Bosnia (1993) ; United States Secretary (1977-1980) United States
1992 President Carlos Salinas de Gortari President of Mexico (1988-1994) Mexico
1991  President Lech Walesa President of Poland (1990-1995) Poland
1990 Mikhail S. Gorbachev President of the Soviet Union (1990-1991) Russia
1989 Javier Perez de Cuellar Secretary-General of the United Nations (1982-1991) Peru