State Department’s Eleanor Roosevelt Human Rights Award Goes to Alice Henkin

December 14, 2010

Contact: Michael Green
Program Associate
Justice & Society Program
The Aspen Institute

State Department’s Eleanor Roosevelt Human Rights Award Goes to Alice Henkin
Husband Louis Henkin Posthumously Honored 

Washington, DC, December 14, 2010 – Alice Henkin, director emerita of the Aspen Institute’s Justice and Society Program, was awarded the Eleanor Roosevelt Human Rights Award by Secretary of State Hillary Clinton on December 10, 2010. Alice’s husband, and late Columbia Law professor and human rights champion Louis Henkin, was a posthumous recipient of the award. Professor Henkin was a major figure in developing the study of human rights law and inspiring generations of legal scholars, government officials and activists. According to the State Department, ‘The Eleanor Roosevelt Award for Human Rights was established by Secretary of State Albright in 1998, at the direction of President Clinton. The Award honors US citizens who, like Eleanor Roosevelt herself, advocate tirelessly for human rights, both at home and abroad.’

During the awards ceremony in the Treaty Room at the State Department, Secretary Clinton said, “Alice Hartman Henkin was one of only six women to graduate from Yale Law School in 1957, and in so doing she put some real cracks in the glass ceiling for people like me. For three decades as the director of the Justice and Society Program at the Aspen Institute, she has brought together lawyers, business leaders, and educators to help shape U.S. policies on human rights, international law, and peacekeeping. And she helped train more than 300 judges, including four Supreme Court justices in international human rights law.”

Clinton went on to say, “Lou and Alice were full partners in integrating the United States into the international human rights system. People say that Lou and Alice were like FDR and Eleanor Roosevelt. But ironically, Lou was more like Eleanor, the lawgiver while Alice has been like Franklin, whose political skills brought these values into the consciousness of generations of U.S. officials.”

Other honorees at the State Department ceremony were Wade Henderson of the Leadership Conference on Civil and Human Rights and Sarah Cleto Rial, a human rights activist in Sudan. Video and a full transcript of Secretary Clinton’s remarks, which make reference to the work Alice has done through the years at the Aspen Institute, are available at

The Aspen Institute mission is twofold: to foster values-based leadership, encouraging individuals to reflect on the ideals and ideas that define a good society, and to provide a neutral and balanced venue for discussing and acting on critical issues. The Aspen Institute does this primarily in four ways: seminars, young-leader fellowships around the globe, policy programs, and public conferences and events. The Institute is based in Washington, DC; Aspen, Colorado; and on the Wye River on Maryland’s Eastern Shore. It also has an international network of partners. For more information, visit


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