Ethiopian lawyer receives human rights award from Stanford Law School

Seife Ayalew Asfaw
Seife Ayalew Asfaw

Stanford Law School has selected prominent Ethiopian human rights activist SEIFE AYALEW ASFAW as the inaugural recipient of its Rubin Family International Human Rights Award. The new award recognizes young leaders in the international social justice movement by bringing one such individual to Stanford Law School as a practitioner-in-residence for two weeks every year.

During his stay on campus April 8-17,  Asfaw will collaborate with scholars throughout the school and the university, and share strategies with social justice leaders in the Bay Area.

Asfaw leads a network of legal aid centers in Ethiopia’s capital, Addis Ababa.  His primary responsibilities include daily assessment and monitoring of the activity of legal aid centers there, mentoring and supervising legal aid service providers and paralegals, conducting human rights training, and building relationships with donors and collaborative partners.

Asfaw works within the framework of Ethiopian law to advance human rights, specifically by expanding citizens’ knowledge of and access to legal services. He plans to use his time at Stanford to study how public interest legal organizations in the United States combine legal services and impact litigation. He intends to establish an Impact Litigation Project in partnership with private law offices, nongovernmental organizations and law schools when he returns to Ethiopia. The project will allow Asfaw to challenge Ethiopian laws and practices that discriminate against women and children, limit freedoms of association and religion, and impair the economic rights of poor and vulnerable people.

The Rubin Family International Human Rights Award is designed to enhance the practitioner-in-residence’s capacity to influence policies, practices and laws that promote systems-changing responses to significant human rights problems. By uniting legal education with a spirit of application to the world’s most pressing human rights crises, this award will also create opportunities for Stanford law students to participate in globalized citizenship and advance a focus on the realization of human rights.

—ANJALI ABRAHAM, Stanford Law School