2003 Nobel Peace Prize Winner
2005 UC Irvine Citizen Peacebuilding Honoree

About the Event

UC Irvine was very honored to host Nobel Peace Prize laureate Shirin Ebadi to receive UCI's Third Citizen Peacebuilding Award. This award recognizes her tremendous effort to promote peace and democracy, and especially her advocacy of human rights concerning the struggle of women and children. In particular she has frequently defended journalists and others advocating democracy and human rights in Iran.

It has never been more important for Americans to understand the current struggles for human rights and democracy in the Middle East and, in particular, Iran. Shirin Ebadi personifies the ongoing efforts of so many women in the region that argue for non-violent solutions to the problems troubling their societies.

Ebadi visited the UC Irvine campus on May 20th, 2005 for a tree dedication ceremony in commemoration of the anniversary of the XIVth Dalai Lama's visit to campus last spring. The California Coastal Redwood tree seedlings were blessed by His Holiness and gifted to the University during his visit and are a symbol of citizens' role in planting the seeds of peace throughout the community and the world.


As a result of her extraordinary achievements, Ebadi was the recipient of the 2001 Rafto Human Rights Foundation prize for human rights activities, and in 2003 The Norwegian Nobel Committee awarded her the Nobel Peace Prize.

The Nobel Committee said, "As a lawyer, judge, lecturer, writer and activist, she has spoken out clearly and strongly in her country, Iran, and far beyond its borders. She has stood up as a sound professional, a courageous person, and has never heeded the threats to her own safety. Her principal arena is the struggle for basic human rights, and no society deserves to be labeled civilized unless the rights of women and children are respected. In an era of violence, she has consistently supported non-violence. It is fundamental to her view that the supreme political power in a community must be built on democratic elections. She favors enlightenment and dialogue as the best path to changing attitudes and resolving conflict."

The Nobel Committee continued, "We hope that the people of Iran will feel joyous that for the first time in history one of their citizens has been awarded the Nobel Peace Prize, and we hope the Prize will be an inspiration for all those who struggle for human rights and democracy in her country, in the Moslem world, and in all countries where the fight for human rights needs inspiration and support."

Ms. Ebadi has continued her "citizen advocacy" of democracy and human rights during the most recent difficult years, and for those efforts the UCI Citizen Peacebuilding Program joins the Nobel Committee and others around the world in lauding her continuing valor.

Ms. Ebadi was a guest of the Citizen Peacebuilding Program in the School of Social Sciences at UC Irvine. Since its inception, it has been the mission of the Center for Citizen Peacebuilding (CCPB) to help citizens seek realistic ways to improve human conditions locally and globally. CCPB activities aim to prevent violent conflict and, if violence occurs, to promote reconciliation and sustainable peace. The CCPB engages in research, education, and action supporting citizen participation in public peace processes. The integration of all three activities is especially important to our mission in promoting knowledge about positive models for change and fostering constructive public debate.

The Center for Citizen Peacebuilding Program is one example of UCI's response to the growing problems of conflict and violence. Turning research into action, the CCPB takes an integrated approach to studying the best grassroots peacebuilding methods in both domestic and international conflicts, and utilizes those findings in direct engagement in peacebuilding projects in neighborhoods in Orange County and Los Angeles, California as well as in selected communities in Northern Ireland, the Middle East, Bosnia/Herzegovina, and the former Soviet Union.

Ms. Ebadi's Biography

Shirin Ebadi is the first woman in the history of Iranian justice to have served as a judge. Ebadi sat for the Tehran University entrance exams and gained a place at the Faculty of Law in 1965. She received her law degree in three-and-a-half years, and immediately sat for the entrance exams for the Department of Justice. After a six-month apprenticeship in adjudication, she began to serve officially as a judge in March 1969. While serving as a judge, she continued her education and obtained a doctorate with honors in private law from Tehran University in 1971.

In 1975, she became the President of Bench 24 of the Tehran City Court. Following the victory of the Islamic Revolution in February 1979, women were forbidden to serve as judges so Ebadi was dismissed from her post and given clerical duties. Ebadi requested and was granted early retirement. Since the Bar Association had remained closed for some time since the revolution and was being managed by the Judiciary, her application to practice private law was turned down. She was, in effect, housebound for many years.

Ebadi used her time of unemployment to write several books and had many articles published in Iranian journals. Her most recent work "The Rights of Women," published by Ganj-e Danesh, Tehran (2002) is expected to be translated in English by UNICEF.

In 1992 Ebadi finally succeeded in obtaining a lawyer's license and set up her own private practice. She began defending many notable cases; some were national cases. Among those cases were her representations of the families of serial murder victims. She also represented several journalists or their families, accused or sentenced in relation to freedom of expression. She took on a large number of social cases, including some involving child abuse.

In 1995, Ebadi cofounded the Association for Support of Children's Rights. She was the association's president until 2000, and continues to assist the association as a legal adviser. Currently the association has over 500 active members.

In 2001, Ebadi cofounded the Human Rights Defense Centre with four defense lawyers. She is currently the centre's president.

In the summer of 2002, Ebadi made a proposal to the Islamic Consultative Assembly (Majlis) to ratify a law on prohibiting all forms of violence against children; as a result the law was promptly debated and ratified.

Shirin Ebadi was born in the city of Hamedan in northwestern Iran in 1947. Her family consisted of academics and practicing Muslims. She moved to Tehran with her family at the age of one and has been a resident in the capital. She is married and has two daughters.

In 2003 The Norwegian Nobel Committee awarded the Nobel Peace Prize to Shirin Ebadi for her efforts promoting democracy and human rights, and especially for her focus on the struggle for the rights of women and children.

Source: Les Prix Nobel. The Nobel Prizes 2003, Editor Tore Frangsmyr, [Nobel Foundation], Stockholm, 2004.

For further biographical information please see website


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