World Jurist Association honors ABA with Medal of Honor

 The American Bar Association and two former ABA presidents recently received the prestigious Medal of Honor from the World Jurist Association for their work promoting the rule of law around the world.

The medal was presented to the ABA, Patricia Lee Refo and Hilarie Bass at the World Law Congress on December 3 in Barranquilla, Colombia. Attending the ceremony were Colombian President Iván Duque Márquez and the King of Spain, Felipe VI.
Refo is a partner with the law firm of Snell & Wilmer in Phoenix. She is immediate past president of the ABA, serving from 2020-2021. Bass is president and founder of the Bass Institute for Diversity and Inclusion, based in Miami, and was ABA president from 2017-2018.

“The rule of law is the most powerful force on earth to ensure the essential human rights of men and women,” Refo said. “I am proud to accept this award on behalf of the ABA and all who defend the rule of law every day.”

Bass said “It is the duty of lawyers throughout the world to be a voice for the voiceless and to ensure justice, especially in difficult circumstances. I accept this award on behalf of all lawyers who defend liberty and human rights.”

The World Jurist Association is dedicated to pursuing a world ruled by law, not force. It was founded in 1963, in part through the work of the ABA, as a place where judges, lawyers and others work to strengthen the rule of law and its institutions. It is a nongovernmental organization with special consultative status at the United Nations Economic and Social Council.

ABA President Reginald Turner gave brief remarks at the World Law Congress via video. Bass read an act granting the WJA’s World Peace & Liberty Award to Colombian democracy. Bass and Refo also participated in person on a panel called “COVID-19: Boon or Detriment to Gender Equality?”

In February 2020, the World Jurist Association honored U.S. Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsberg by presenting her with the association’s highest honor at the ABA’s office in Washington, D.C. The World Peace & Liberty Award recognized Ginsberg’s lifetime of work supporting the rule of law. She died September 18, 2020.