Simon Fraser University to confer honorary degrees on prominent South Asians: Asma Jahangir and Miloon Kothari

ASMA Jahangir, a prominent Pakistani human rights lawyer and activist, and Miloon Kothari, an architect and internationally recognized human rights advocate, are among 10 distinguished individuals selected to receive honorary degrees from Simon Fraser University in 2017.

Jahangir and Kothari will receive honorary degrees during the spring convocation ceremonies June 6-9.


JAHANGIR “has worked tirelessly to champion the human rights of women, children and the poor in Pakistan and S.E. Asia, and has served as a United Nations Special Rapporteur,” noted SFU.

According to Wikipedia, Jahangir “is a Pakistani human rights lawyer and social activist who co-founded and chaired the Human Rights Commission of Pakistan. She is widely known for playing a prominent role in the Lawyers’ Movement and serves as the trustee at the International Crisis Group.

“Born and raised in Lahore, Jahangir studied at the Convent of Jesus and Mary before receiving her B.A from Kinnaird and LLB from the Punjab University in 1978. In 1980, Jahangir was called to the Lahore High Court and to the Supreme Court in 1982. In the 1980s, Jahangir became a democracy activist and was imprisoned in 1983 for participating in the Movement for the Restoration of Democracy against the military regime of Zia-ul-Haq. In 1986, she moved to Geneva, and became the vice-chair of the Defence for Children International and remained until 1988 when she moved back to Pakistan.

“In 1987 she co-founded the Human Rights Commission of Pakistan and became its Secretary General until 1993 when she was elevated as commission’s chairperson. She was again put under house arrest in November 2007 after the imposition of martial law. After serving as one of the leaders of the Lawyers’ Movement, she became Pakistan’s first woman to serve as the President of Supreme Court Bar Association of Pakistan. She has co-chaired South Asia Forum for Human Rights and was the vice president of International Federation for Human Rights.

“Jahangir served as the United Nations Special Rapporteur on Freedom of Religion from August 2004 to July 2010, including serving on the U.N. panel for inquiry into Sri Lankan human rights violations and on a fact-finding mission on Israeli settlements. Jahangir is the recipient of several awards.”


KOTHARI’S “work has led to the establishment of new global tools and standards for addressing housing and land rights” and “his work has also influenced housing-rights law and policy-making worldwide,” noted SFU.

According to the website of the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR):

“An architect by training, Mr. Miloon Kothari has extensive experience in the area of housing and land rights and has been actively working, through his various functions, to promote the realization of the whole range of economic, social and cultural rights.

“Graduated from the Pratt Institute and Columbia University (New York) and the Maharaja Sayajirao University (Baroda, India), Mr. Kothari has been a guest professor to numerous universities and institutions.

“Mr. Kothari is regularly invited to address audiences on various topics. … He has also initiated and/or participated in numerous standard-setting exercises including the principles and guidelines on development based evictions, the Masstricht Guidelines and General Comments from United Nations treaty bodies.

“He has published over 50 publications on areas such as housing and land rights, women and housing, land, property and inheritance, forced evictions, globalisation and impact on human rights and environment, health and human rights, rural housing and natural resources, indicators and housing and land rights, civil society and human rights, trade, investment and human rights, urbanisation and housing rights and civil society and housing and land rights and housing. In addition, Mr. Kothari has played a major role in writing, compiling and editing institutional publications, such as training manuals and policy papers, and has written for a leading international human rights journal. …

“Mr. Kothari is a contact person for a large number of local, national and international non-governmental organizations and UN agencies.

“In 2000, Mr. Kothari was appointed the first Special Rapporteur on adequate housing as a component of the right to an adequate standard of living, and on the right to non-discrimination in this context. His mandate ended in 2008.”