(AMHERST, Mass., May 18, 2023) — Ukrainian human rights lawyer Oleksandra Matviichuk, head of Ukraine’s Nobel Peace Prize-winning Center for Civil Liberties (CCL), will be honored along with six other influential leaders in the arts, biotech, higher education, environmental journalism, business and literature during Amherst College’s Commencement on Sunday, May 28, at 10 a.m. on the school’s main quad. 

Matviichuk will also deliver an address titled “No Peace Without Justice” at 1 p.m. in Johnson Chapel on Saturday, May 27. Both events will be free and open to the public.

A human rights defender in Ukraine and other Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE) nations, Matviichuk has led since 2007 the Center for Civil Liberties, which promotes human rights legislation, exercises public oversight over law enforcement agencies and the judiciary, conducts educational activities for young people, implements international solidarity programs and works to foster democracy in Ukraine and the OSCE region. Matviichuk also coordinates the work of Euromaidan SOS, a grassroots legal assistance initiative that was created in response to the violent dispersal of a peaceful student demonstration in Maidan Square, in Kyiv, Ukraine, on November 30, 2013. Most recently, after Russia’s invasion into Ukraine in February 2022, Matviichuk created, with partners, the “Tribunal for Putin” initiative to document international crimes under the Rome Statute of the International Criminal Court in all regions of Ukraine that have been targeted by Russian attacks.

For her visionary and committed leadership, Matviichuk has received many international recognitions, including the 2022 Nobel Peace Prize as head of CCL, the Right Livelihood Award, and the Democracy Defender Award from 17 delegations to the OSCE, which honored her “exclusive contribution to promoting democracy and human rights.” In 2017, she became the first woman to participate in the Ukrainian Emerging Leaders Program of Stanford University, and in 2022 she was recognized as one of the 25 most influential women in the world by The Financial Times.

In addition to Matviichuk, the following individuals will receive honorary degrees from Amherst:

  • P. Gabrielle Foreman ’86, Penn State University professor and 2022 MacArthur Fellow
  • Stephen Hoge ’98, president of Moderna Inc.
  • Freeman A. Hrabowski III, president emeritus of the University of Maryland, Baltimore County
  • Elizabeth Kolbert, author and New Yorker writer
  • Paul Polman, Dutch businessman and author
  • Tracy K. Smith, two-time U.S. poet laureate and Pulitzer Prize winner 

Listen to an audio recording of the talk given by Oleksandra Matviichuk during Commencement weekend