Citation for Dame Silvia Cartwright

Within New Zealand Dame Silvia Cartwright is unparalleled as a role model and champion for women both inside and outside of the judiciary. In 1981, she was appointed a Family Court and District Court Judge before becoming the first woman to hold the role of Chief District Court Judge. Following her work on what became known as the Cartwright Inquiry into the experimental treatment of cervical cancer patients in Auckland, she was appointed a Dame Commander of the Order of the British Empire. She was the first woman appointed to New Zealand’s high court in 1993, before becoming the Governor-General of New Zealand in 2001.

From 1993-2001 Dame Silvia served on the United Nations Committee monitoring compliance with the convention of the elimination of all forms of discrimination aainst women. From 2007-2014 she served as an International Jurist on the UN-supported Extraordinary Chambers in the Courts of Cambodia presiding over trials for serious war crimes committed during the Khmer Roue  period. 

From 2014-2016 Dame Silvia was one of three distinguished experts appointed to in supportive and advisory role to the UN Office of High Commissioner for Human Rights investigating alleged abuses and violations of human rights by parties during the civil war conflict in Sri Lanka. With her work within these international tribunals Dame Silvia has been able to assist countries to work towards eliminating discrimination and violence, establishing the rule of law and promoting equality and diversity. This outstanding jurist’s life’s work has had a profound influence on the
lives of so many, particularly women and the disadvantaged. We are very proud to present the Association’s Human Rights Award 2021 to Dame Silvia Cartwright.