Professor Uche Ewelukwa, a University of Arkansas School of Law Professor is the winner of the 2009 Human Rights Essay Award.
The theme for the essay competition was, “60 years of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights: its contemporary normative impact.” Ewelukwa’s paper, “The Universal Declaration of Human Rights and the African Child Today: Progress or Problems?” asks if the Universal Declaration of Human Rights (UDHR) has been beneficial to African children or if it has proved harmful.
Her essay reviewed the extent to which children are protected in the constitutions of countries in Africa, discussed the influence of the UDHR on constitution-making and the development of human rights ideals in the continent, and analyzed relevant judicial decisions emanating from some of the highest courts in the continent, including the Constitutional Court of South Africa, the Supreme Court of Nigeria, and the Supreme Court of Zimbabwe.
Ewelukwa argues that children in Africa still confront four persisting tyrannies that the UDHR does not effectively address – the tyranny of silence, the tyranny of culture, the tyranny of poverty and corruption, and the tyranny of globalization. Despite this, Ewelukwa concludes that, “thanks to the UDHR, change has come and there is reason for optimism for the future of the African child.”
The competition for the annual Human Rights Essay Award is open to legal scholars across the globe. Past winners have come from Australia (2008 and 2003), the United States (2007 and 2004), the United Kingdom (2006), and Hungary (2005). The winning essay is chosen by a distinguished international panel of eminent jurists, which this year included Andrew Clapham, Director, Geneva Academy of International Humanitarian Law and Human Rights, Switzerland ; Hina Jilani, Vice Chairperson, Human Rights Commission, Pakistan; Claudia Martin, Co-Director, Academy on Human Rights and Humanitarian Law; Alex Morawa, Professor of Law, University of Lucerne, Switzerland; Manfred Nowak, Special Rapporteur on Torture, United Nations; Hélène Ruiz Fabri, President, European Society of International Law; and Frans Viljoen, Director, Centre for Human Rights, University of Pretoria, South Africa.