Kirby shares $578,000 legal prize
June 16, 2010 – 11:23AM
Former High Court judge Michael Kirby has been named a co-winner of a $US500,000 ($578,000) US legal prize.
Mr Kirby is the first Australian to win the Gruber Justice Prize. The announcement was made in New York.
He shares the prize with Professor John Dugard of South Africa, who helped draft human rights protections in the post-apartheid South African constitution, and the Indian Law Resource Centre in the US, which champions indigenous people’s interests.
The prize, which is awarded without preconditions, will be presented at George Washington University in Washington, DC, on October 11.
In a statement, Mr Kirby said: “I am conscious of the many people with whom I have worked over the years on human rights and justice who are equally deserving of recognition.
“There is also probably a need for a special Gruber Prize for the spouses and partners of Gruber Prize winners.
“My partner of 41 years, Johan van Vloten, definitely deserves a prize for putting up with me. Probably the Victoria Cross.”
Since retiring from the High Court early last year, Mr Kirby has increased his activities with human rights bodies. He is also an honorary professor at 10 Australian universities.
The Gruber awards are named after Peter and Patricia Gruber.
Mr Gruber escaped with his family to India from Hungary before World War II.
He later moved to Melbourne, then to the United States, where he became a successful investor, making and losing fortunes on the sharemarket several times.
He and his wife established the prizes in chosen fields of special interest to them in 2000.