The Honourable Dame Silvia Cartwright has dedicated more than 40 years to the law and became the first woman in
New Zealand appointed to the High Court in 1993.
Between 1987 and 1988, Dame Silvia chaired the Commission of Inquiry into the Treatment of Cervical Cancer and Other Related Matters at National Women’s Hospital, dubbed the Cartwright Inquiry. She served as New Zealand’s 18th Governor-General from 2001 to 2006, the second woman to hold the office. After completing her tenure as Governor-General, she was appointed from 2007 to 2014 as one of two international trial judges on the Cambodian War Crimes Tribunal investigating the Khmer Rouge period. She was a member of the United Nations committee monitoring compliance with the United Nations Convention to Eliminate All Forms of Discrimination Against Women (CEDAW). She played a key role in the drafting of the CEDAW’s Optional Protocol. From 2015 to 2016 she took part in a United Nations investigation of alleged war crimes and human rights abuses in Sri Lanka and currently chairs the Executive Board of the International Commission of Jurists investigating international law breaches by North Korea. Dame Silvia led the Public Inquiry into the Earthquake Commission in 2019.
Additional Companion of the Queen’s Service Order, 2006
Principal Companion of the New Zealand Order of Merit, 2001
Dame of Justice of the Order of St John, 2001
New Zealand Suffrage Centennial Medal, 1993
New Zealand 1990 Commemoration Medal
Dame Commander of the Order of the British Empire, Queen’s Birthday 1989