Pakistani teenage activist Malala Yousafzai, who survived a Taliban assassination attempt last year, has been awarded the 2013 UN Human Rights Prize, an honour previously given to icons like late Nelson Mandela in recognition of outstanding achievement in human rights.
The prize is awarded every five years and has previously been bestowed on Amnesty International and former US president Jimmy Carter.
"The Prize is an opportunity not only to give public recognition to the achievements of the recipients themselves, but also to send a clear message to human rights defenders the world over that the international community is grateful for, and supports, their tireless efforts to promote all human rights for all," the Office of the high commissioner for human rights (OHCHR) said in a statement.
Apart from Yousafzai, the other five winners of the award are son of freed slaves who works to eradicate slavery Biram Dah Abeid of Mauritania, campaigner from Kosovo for the rights of short statured people Hiljmnijeta Apuk, president emeritus of the World Federation of the Deaf Liisa Kauppinen, former president of the Morocco Association for Human Rights Khadija Ryadi and Mexico's Supreme Court of Justice.
The award ceremony would take place at the UN headquarters on December 10 as part of the annual commemoration of Human Rights Day, which would this year include the observance of the 20th anniversary of the creation of OHCHR and the adoption of the Vienna Declaration and Programme of Action.
High Commissioner for Human Rights Navi Pillay said human rights are increasingly permeating all corners of the work of the United Nations, and that is fundamentally changing the way the UN works with national authorities and the international community.
"The key now is to implement the laws and standards to make enjoyment of human rights a reality on the ground. Unfortunately, too often, the political will, and the human and financial resources, to achieve this are lacking," she said.
The high commissioner said the 20 years since Vienna have seen many setbacks and a number of tragic failures to prevent atrocities and safeguard human rights.
"In several instances where deplorable, large-scale violations of international human rights law were occurring, the international community was too slow, too divided, too short-sighted or just plain inadequate in its response to the warnings of human rights defenders and the cries of victims. We can and we must do better," she added.