November 13th 2013

Kathleen Ruff given Special Award from the Collegium Ramazzini

The Collegium Ramazzini and the Town of Carpi are proud to recognize KATHLEEN RUFF as the recipient of a Special Award to honor her steadfast and effective advocacy in the international effort to ban the ongoing use of asbestos and for promoting better occupational and environmental health protections throughout the world.

Kathleen Ruff has been active in human rights law for many years. From 1972 to 1979, she served as director of the British Columbia Human Rights Commission. She was the founding publisher and editor of the Canadian Human Rights Reporter and host of the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation television program Ombudsman. From 1986 to 1993 she published the Canadian Human Rights Advocate. She was also the director of the Canadian Court Challenges Program which supported precedent setting legal cases on equality and language rights under the Canadian Constitution. She is also the founder of the human rights website RightOnCanada.ca and Senior Advisor on Human Rights to the Rideau Institute.

Kathleen Ruff's human rights work intersected with the work of the Collegium when she turned her attention to environmental and occupational health and in 2007 organized a social movement to close the asbestos mines in Canada. Her report, Exporting Harm: how Canada markets asbestos to the developing world, focused on the damage done by Canada's defense of its continued export of asbestos, largely to developing countries and its role as a propagandist for the asbestos industry. Her efforts working with supporters from Canada and elsewhere led the Quebec and Canadian governments to eventually change their policies on asbestos. In 2012, she led the fight against the attempt to reopen the Quebec asbestos mines.

She founded the Rotterdam Convention Alliance in order to provide a voice and vehicle for environmental, labor, and health organizations to defend and promote the full and effective implementation of the Rotterdam Convention. Working with several fellows of the Collegium, she has been a leading advocate for a worldwide ban on asbestos and has been a key voice in countering the efforts of Canada, India, and later Russia to block the inclusion of chrysotile asbestos under the convention.

Kathleen Ruff's efforts on asbestos have been recognized by the Canadian Public Health Association in presenting her with their National Public Health Hero Award in 2011. The Collegium Ramazzini is proud to present this special award to someone who has partnered with us and has done so much to ban the further use of this deadly material. In bringing the perspective of human rights to the global asbestos struggle, her advocacy efforts have already helped to save countless lives and exemplify the mission of the Collegium to be a bridge between scientific work and the social and political efforts to protect public health.



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