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2017 M.C. Bassiouni Justice Award winner

Ambassador Narinder Singh painted by Roberto Caruso.


Narinder Singh

Ambassador Narinder Singh has been granted the 2017 M.C. Bassiouni Justice Award dedicated to an “outstanding South Asian who has contributed to the rule of international law generally or the field of international criminal law and justice specifically”, in recognition of (a) a lifetime of exemplary service in shaping India’s interaction with international law and in the process of bringing one fifth of humankind closer to the rule of international law; (b) his outstanding contributions and leadership in the United Nations International Law Commission and its activities towards progressive development and codification of international law; (c) his sincere mentorship of young Indian lawyers in the field of international law; (d) his contributions to the comprehensive ‘Historical Origins of International Criminal Law Project’ and support to the initiatives of CILRAP in India and globally; and (e) his rare qualities of humility and mindfulness which imbue his interactions with actors of different backgrounds and standing with effect and dependability.

A career international lawyer, Ambassador Singh has over the last four decades shaped India’s interaction with international law. As the Legal Adviser to the Indian Ministry of External Affairs and Head of its Legal and Treaties Division, he has represented India in several United Nations bodies, negotiations of numerous treaties, and important arbitral proceedings. He has held key positions in diplomatic conferences and been a member of the International Law Commission for a decade, serving as its Chairman in the Sixty-seventh Annual Session (2015). He participated prominently in its work on topics such as ‘immunity of State officials from foreign criminal jurisdiction’, ‘protection of the environment in relation to armed conflicts’, ‘identification of customary international law’, and ‘crimes against humanity’. He started his legal career as an academic at the Indian Society of International Law, an organisation he led three decades later as Secretary General. He was instrumental in securing electronic distribution and archiving of the flagship journal of the Society, the Indian Journal of International Law, ensuring a wider audience, especially amongst young lawyers. Many younger lawyers have gained valuable exposure to international law through research assistantship with Ambassador Singh at sessions of the International Law Commission and at the Indian Society of International Law.

The 2017 Award Committee consisted of Professor Emeritus M.C. Bassiouni, Professor LING Yan (China University of Political Science and Law), Assistant Professor CHEAH Wui Ling (National University of Singapore), Mr. Arne Willy Dahl (former Judge Advocate General, Norway), Mr. Alf Butenschøn Skre (Secretary), and Professor Morten Bergsmo (Chair).

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