New York University Skip to Content Skip to Search Skip to Navigation Skip to Sub Navigation

Humanitarian Award

NYU Martin Luther King, Jr. Humanitarian Award The NYU Martin Luther King, Jr. Humanitarian Award is presented annually to a humanitarian within the NYU community who embodies and exemplifies the characteristics promoted by Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. -- "a vision of peace, persistence in purpose, and inspirational action." The recipient must be an NYU alumnus or alumna, or a current NYU faculty or staff member. 

Matiangai Sirleaf

Matiangai Sirleaf

2014 Award Recipient:  Matiangai Sirleaf

Matiangai Sirleaf is a Sharswood Fellow in International Law at the University of Pennsylvania Law School where she pursues her research agenda and teaches courses on international human rights law and post-conflict and transitional justice. Her scholarly work asks how institutions can more systematically address the challenges of providing redress for survivors of mass violence in resource-constrained contexts. Matiangai is interested in developing a framework for addressing the questions posed by pursuing justice in times of transition. Her work examines how to provide more effective mechanisms that better match the justice expectations of victims of mass violence. Her work draws on insights from the fields of international and human rights law, as well as comparative, criminal, and tort law. Her experiences growing up during the Liberian civil war has made examining these issues of great import both professionally and personally.

Her recent publications include: The Truth About Truth Commissions: Why They Do Not Function Optimally in Post-Conflict Societies 35 Cardozo L. Rev. (forthcoming Aug. 2014), and Beyond Truth & Punishment 54 Va. J. Int’l L. (forthcoming Jan. 2014). She is a graduate of Yale Law School. Prior to law school, she earned an M.A. in International Affairs, from the University of Ghana-Legon while on a Fulbright Fellowship. She received her B.A. in Political Science from N.Y.U.’s College of Arts & Science.

Matiangai's practice experience includes serving as counsel in the International Human Rights Practice Group at Cohen Milstein, where she assisted with numerous cutting-edge international human rights cases, representing victims of human trafficking and forced labor, torture, enforced disappearance, extrajudicial killing, and arbitrary detention.  Prior to this, she clerked on the Constitutional Court for South Africa for former Chief Justice Sandile Ngcobo, taught a course on civic engagement with human rights for the International Human Rights Exchange Programme at the University of Witwaterstrand in Johannesburg, South Africa, and engaged in human rights advocacy at the International Center for Transitional Justice in Cape Town, South Africa; Matiangai hopes that her work will contribute towards developing the next generation of like-minded individuals committed to the struggle for freedom, justice, equality, and human rights.


Listen to the critical perspectives of several guests as they present their views and ideas and engage in dialogue surrounding the costs of failing to realize the dreams that Dr. King articulated fifty years ago. We will also be presenting the NYU MLK Jr. Humanitarian Award.

Join us for a stimulating evening of reflection and conversation as we challenge ourselves to move forward from dreaming to action. RSVP here!

Future Nominations

You may send nominations for consideration to Monroe France:

Monroe France
Assistant Vice President for Student Diversity
60 Washington Square South, Suite 806
New York, New York 10012 (email)

NYU Footer