Singapore, 13 November 2019 — PILnet’s Global Awards celebrate and honor the extraordinary efforts made by individuals, law firms, and NGOs to strengthen civil society, advance social justice, and protect the public interest around the world. This year, three awards were given: the PILnet Publico award, the Award for Exemplary Partnership in the Public Interest, and the Award for Local Pro Bono Impact. With the exception of the Publico award, that was chosen internally by PILnet staff, nominations were submitted from around the world for projects that included assisting children in vulnerable situations, advocating for refugees and asylum seekers, and protecting those affected by climate change and pollution. Award winners were announced in Singapore on 12 November at PILnet’s Global Awards Dinner Reception at the historic Chijmes Hall.
The Publico Award recognizes legal professionals with an extraordinary, passionate and long-standing commitment to service for the public good. PILnet bestowed the 2019 award to Tong Lihua, a PILnet Fellow alumnus, for his tireless work throughout his career to provide pro bono legal services to vulnerable communities in China, particularly children. He established the Beijing Children’s Legal Aid and Research Centre in 1999, which was the first non-governmental organization dedicated to providing pro bono legal services to children in China. Under his leadership, and in conjunction with the All-China Lawyers Association, Zhicheng Public Interest Law, an organization that was founded to support children’s rights, set up 29 Child Protection Committees at the provincial level and a further 90 in metropolitan areas. Furthermore, it has developed a network of over 9,000 pro bono lawyers working on child protection.
The Award for Exemplary Partnership recognizes effective cross-sector collaborations that have an impact across country borders. Five impressive projects were shortlisted this year. Herbert Smith Freehills and the UNHCR were awarded for their collaboration on the ground-breaking initiative, MADE51, which partners refugee artisans with local social enterprises that have product development and export expertise. Together, they developed saleable product lines that are purchased by major retailers and consumers and have already directly supported 1,000 refugees.
The Award for Local Pro Bono Impact honors individual lawyers and law firms who have made an exceptional effort to use their skills for the benefit of their local community. Among the five projects shortlisted this year, European Lawyers in Lesvos was bestowed the award. The European Lawyers in Lesvos, a team of Greek asylum lawyers and volunteer European asylum lawyers, provided free, independent legal assistance to refugees on Lesvos, helping over 9,000 people to date.
PILnet congratulates these winners and the excellent work of all of the nominees. We look forward to another year of developing partnerships between the private and public sectors, and working together to use law as a tool for social change.
Contact: Toby Greenfield, PILnet