On October 28 2021, Geoff Budlender, a South African anti-apartheid lawyer and current Sigrid Rausing Trustee, was awarded the 2021 International Bar Association Pro Bono Award at the Virtual Section on Public and Professional Interest Awards Ceremony. The award honors those who have shown outstanding commitment to pro bono work, and Budlender’s 45-year legal career has exemplified such commitment.
Budlender is one of the founders of the Legal Resources Center (LRC), the first public interest law center in South Africa and former SRT grantee. As director of the LRC’s Constitutional Litigation Union, he challenged the South African government’s denial of the AIDS epidemic, which led to the widespread provision of antiretroviral medicines to pregnant mothers and HIV-positive adults. It is estimated that this legal action saved the lives of over two million people. Furthermore, as Senior Advocate for the youth movement and nonprofit organization Equal Education, he pushed for equality in South African schools, ensuring that thousands of schools had safe access to water, electricity, and toilets and that hundreds of schools were built with appropriate materials. Budlender also served four years in President Nelson Mandela’s administration as director-general of the Department of Land Affairs.
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