TANG PRIZE/Tang Prize in rule of law goes to 3 NGOs

06/21/2020 10:27 AM
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Image from facebook.com/tangprize
Image from facebook.com/tangprize

Taipei, June 21 (CNA) Three overseas nongovernmental organizations -- the Bangladesh Environmental Lawyers Association (BELA), Colombia-based Dejusticia, and Lebanon-based The Legal Agenda -- have won the 2020 Tang Prize for their significant contributions to the rule of law, the Tang Prize Selection Committee announced Sunday.

The NGOs were awarded "for their efforts in furthering the rule of law and its institutions through education and advocacy," according to the award citation released by the Tang Prize Foundation.

The organizations have shown exemplary perseverance in promoting greater individual, social and environmental justice in areas where the foundations of the rule of law are under severe challenge, the foundation said.

Video courtesy of the Tang Prize Foundation

Established in 1992, BELA is dedicated to promoting environmental justice and developing sound environmental jurisprudence in Bangladesh, the committee said in a statement.

The NGO promotes the rule of law and environmental justice through public interest litigation, advocacy, research and publication, as well as capacity-building for actors in the public sector and civil society, the committee said.

BELA has initiated more than 250 public interest lawsuits and advocated for legislative reform on environmental justice.

Among the issues covered have been river pollution, industrial pollution, vehicular pollution, illegal construction, labor welfare, illegal mining, and wetlands protection as well as the prevention of soil erosion, reduction of plastic use, and prevention of ship pollution, the committee said.

The association was previously honored when it was named to the Global 500 Roll of Honor under the United Nations Environment Program in June 2003 for generating broader awareness of environmental law and sensitizing the notion of environmental justice.

In 2009, Syeda Rizwana Hasan, the association's chief executive, was awarded the prestigious Goldman Environmental Prize for her public interest work in environmental conservation.

Also sharing the prize is the Colombia-based research and advocacy organization Dejusticia: The Center for Law, Justice and Society, which was founded in 2005 and has made important contributions to the rule of law through its relentless campaigns, the committee said.

Dejusticia efficiently combines rigorous academic research with energetic social action on human rights issues, and is deeply committed to social change through activism informed by research, the committee said.

The organization aims to strengthen the rule of law through litigation, notably filing and winning landmark cases on such sensitive issues as discrimination (race and gender), indigenous peoples' rights, the rights of refugees, transitional justice, and environmental degradation, according to the committee.

It said that the group has litigated cases in Colombian courts and in international legal forums across Latin America.

The Legal Agenda, established in 2009, has successfully strengthened judicial independence and the rule of law in Lebanon through a multidisciplinary approach, the committee went on.

Its main activities include monitoring the functions of the judiciary, advocating for legislative change, and promoting a stronger societal fabric in support of judicial independence, the committee said.

The organization speaks for marginalized groups and promotes legal protection for migrant workers, refugees, LGBT groups, and families of victims of enforced disappearances, the committee said.

It has also done significant work in promoting social awareness of the protection of rights and the rule of law, the committee said, adding that its pioneering approach has expanded beyond Lebanon to other Arab countries, the committee noted.

The Tang Prize, also known as the "Asian Nobel prize," was established by Taiwanese businessman and philanthropist Samuel Yin (尹衍樑), chairman of the Ruentex Group, and first awarded in 2014.

Held every two years, the Tang Prize awards high achievers in four fields -- sustainable development, biopharmaceutical science, Sinology and rule of law.

The three organizations will share a cash award of NT$40 million (US$1.35 million) and a NT$10 million research grant, and they will also receive Tang Prize medals and certificates.

A week-long program revolving around the award ceremony will begin on Sept. 20.

(By William Yen)


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