2021 O'Connor Justice Prize

Judge Elizabeth Odio Benito

President of the Inter-American Court of Human Rights

Elizabeth Odio Benito, President of the Inter-American Court of Human Rights and former Judge of the International Criminal Court, has dedicated her professional career to erase inequality and injustice. With extensive practical and academic experience in the field of human rights and international humanitarian law, Benito became the first woman professor at the University of Costa Rica and later founded the Human Rights Institute in Costa Rica. Her decades of teaching, research and leadership around international human rights – and more specifically women’s rights – continue to inspire others.

In her broad career in politics and the administration of justice, Benito also became the first woman to serve as the minister of justice and attorney general of Costa Rica. A former judge of the International ad hoc Tribunal for the Former Yugoslavia, she has served as an expert consultant of the University for Peace, United Nations, Costa Rica, Department of International Relations and Conflict Resolution. Prior to that, Benito served as Judge in the Trial Division of the International Criminal Court and Second Vice-President of the International Criminal Court. Her other career achievements include:

  • From 1983 to 2003 she served as member of the United Nations Voluntary Fund for Victims of Torture (UNFVT), and in 1987 and 1988 she was a member of the Expert Committee for the Prevention of Torture in the Americas (ECPTA).
  • In 2000 she was elected Chairperson of the Working Group on the Optional Protocol to the Convention against Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment and greatly contributed to its adoption in 2002.
  • In her country of Costa Rica, she served as Second Vice-President from 1998 to 2002, and served twice as Minister of Justice, from 1978 to 1982 and from 1990 to 1993.

Benito has been recognized with numerous awards throughout her career and has published multiple articles on political and social issues.

President of the Inter-American Court of Human Rights to receive 2021 O’Connor Justice Prize

October 21, 2021

Judge Elizabeth Odio Benito, president of the Inter-American Court of Human Rights, has been named the seventh recipient of the O’Connor Justice Prize. She was the first female professor at the University of Costa Rica Law School, founded the Human Rights Institute of Costa Rica and has served as the minister of justice of Costa Rica and as a judge on three international tribunals.

“We are living during very challenging times, and our efforts must be redoubled to create a world that is supportive, inclusive and kind,” Judge Elizabeth Odio Benito said. “I accept this award with a pledge to continue working for human rights, the rule of law and democracy.”