Former Chair - Human Rights Commission of Pakistan
Former President - Supreme Court Bar Association of Pakistan
"Walking Together for Freedom "
September 27, 2012
Asma Jahangir gave the keynote address for the Breaking Barriers: What It Will Take To Achieve Security, Justice and Peace conference hosted by the Joan B. Kroc Institute for Peace & Justice at the University of San Diego on September 27, 2012. Jahangir’s lecture spanned the human rights challenges she has confronted both in Pakistan and internationally. Jahangir addressed Pakistan’s controversial blasphemy laws and the recent global reaction to the derogatory video about Prophet Mohammed.
“Religions don’t have rights,” she stated. “People have rights.”
- Asma Jahangir
Asma Jahangir is a Pakistani human rights lawyer who served two terms as chair of the Human Rights Commission of Pakistan and was the first woman president of the Supreme Court Bar Association of Pakistan. She has fought to defend the human rights of women, religious minorities and laborers in Pakistan for over 40 years, both in and out of the courtroom. On the international level, Jahangir has served as U.N. Special Rapporteur on Extrajudicial, Arbitrary or Summary Executions for the U.N. Commission on Human Rights (1998-2004) and U.N. Special Rapporteur on Freedom of Religion or Belief for the U.N. Human Rights Council (2004-2010).
Jahangir was a leading figure in the campaign to reform the controversial Hudood Ordinance, religious-based laws that, among other things, allowed rape victims to be charged with adultery if they did not have four Muslim male witnesses to the rape. The campaign was partially successful when the 27-year-old Ordinance was reformed in 2006.
Jahangir has received the Ramon Magsaysay Award (often described as Asia’s Nobel Prize), the UNIFEM Millennium Peace Prize, the Freedom of Worship Medal, the Hilal-i-Imtiaz (one of the highest civilian awards in Pakistan) and the 2010 UNESCO Bilbao Prize, among others. She was also one of the 1,000 women nominated for the Nobel Peace Prize in 2005.