Former UN commissioner and human rights lawyer Navanethem (Navi) Pillay will receive an honorary doctorate on Thursday at the Mandeville Lecture 2016. Kristin Henrard, professor of Human Rights and Minorities of the Erasmus School of Law (ESL) and Karin Arts, professor of International Law and Development, the International Institute of Social Studies (ISS) will present Pillay with the honorary doctorate.

Pillay will give a lecture with the title Current Migration Challenges: A Human Rights Perspective. Henrard gives you three reasons why you really should come and listen to Pillay.

Kristin Henrard
Kristin Henrard.

# 1 This is the first time that an official honorary doctorate at the Mandeville Lecture is given

The honorary doctorate is awarded in recognition of a person for major social services. It’s justified that Pillay will be the first one to receive the honorary doctorate. “Navi Pillay has a tremendous track record. She always has protected the rights of the most vulnerable. She made sure that political prisoners during the Apartheid regime were given access to a lawyer, she put the problem of domestic violence on the agenda and she is the major force behind the focus on LGBT rights at the UN. She also played an important role in recognizing rape as a war crime.”

# 2 Pillay is a great expert on human rights

Pillay grew up in a poor Indian family in South Africa during the Apartheid regime. “She didn’t get anything for free, but managed to break all the walls. No one expected that a non-white girl in South Africa at that time would go to the university. Pillay succeeded. Just as no one expected a non-white woman would set up her own law firm or could perform so much work with regard to human rights. Pillay is intelligent, has a warm personality and is a spirited lady who is very tenacious and has good strategic insight. That brought her far. We would not nearly be so far with regard to human rights without her. If you want to know more about this subject, it is the person you should listen to.”

# 3 She keeps you grounded

“To see the way the Dutch judge refugees entering the country sometimes frightens me. If someone could wake everybody up again, it’s Pillay. Let’s start from the basics: we’re talking about people. Why should you have more rights than others? Just because you happen to be born in the right place? Pillay can bring everything into perspective again. I would therefore want to invite all the opponents of refugees coming to the Netherlands to come and listen. “