Navi Pillay is the High Commissioner for Human Rights. As UN Human Rights Chief, she has been a vocal supporter of the protection of the human rights of LGBT people, for example launching the Free & Equal campaign in 2013. In 2011, her Office prepared the first ever official UN study on violence and discrimination against individuals based on sexual orientation and gender identity, which was subsequently taken up and discussed at the UN Human Rights Council. She previously served as a judge on the International Criminal Court in the Hague from 2003 to 2008.
From 1967 to 1995, Pillay was an attorney of the South African High Court and was appointed judge in 1995. She exposed the practice and effects of torture and established prisoners’ rights on Robben Island. As a member of the Women’s National Coalition, Pillay contributed to the inclusion of an equality clause in South Africa’s Constitution, prohibiting discrimination on the grounds of race, gender, religion and sexual orientation.
In 1999, Pillay was elected Judge President of the International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda, which she had joined in 1995. At the Tribunal, she contributed to ground-breaking jurisprudence on rape as genocide and on freedom of speech and hate propaganda.
Born on 23 September 1941, Navi Pillay holds a Bachelor of Arts and a Bachelor of Laws from Natal University South Africa. She also holds a Master of Laws and a Doctorate in Juridical Science from Harvard. She has two daughters.