Former High Court Judge Michael Kirby has become the first Australian to be awarded the internationally renowned Gruber Justice Prize.
Kirby's win was announced by the Gruber Foundation in New York, with Kirby sharing the accolades with South Africa's Professor John Dugard, as well as the Indian Law Resource Centre.
Awarded annually, the Gruber Justice Prize is worth $US 500,000 ($581,000) and was awarded to Kirby for his ongoing contribution to human rights law and justice issues throughout his long and distinguished career.
Law Council of Australia president Glenn Ferguson congratulated Kirby on his achievement and said he was certainly a worthy recipient.
"Michael Kirby had an outstanding career as a judge and made an extraordinary contribution to the law and society," said Ferguson.
"His commitment to human rights and justice issues in particular will be long remembered both nationally and internationally, and he is most deserving of this prize. On behalf of the Australian legal profession, the Law Council congratulates Mr Kirby on this latest honour."
Kirby was characteristically humble upon hearing of the award, saying: "I am conscious of the many people with whom I have worked over the years on human rights and justice who are equally deserving of recognition."
The 2010 Gruber Justice Prize will be presented to Kirby at an official ceremony in Washington DC on 11 October.