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Paul Van Zyl      

Paul van Zyl is a global leader and advisor on human rights and is the co-founder and CEO of Maiyet.

A human rights lawyer, Paul van Zyl has taken an unusual path to becoming the co-founder and CEO of a high fashion luxury brand. He spent the better part of the nineties as the Executive Secretary of South Africa's Truth and Reconciliation Commission, which was charged with investigating Apartheid-era crimes. In 2001, he moved to New York to create the International Center for Transitional Justice in response to a growing recognition that facing legacies of past abuse and injustice is crucial to protecting human rights around the world. Today he brings his year's of extraordinary nonprofit NGO experience in conflict-ridden areas to the world of high fashion. Understanding the impact creating productive business activity can have on the advancement of human societies, Paul co-founded Maiyet, a luxury brand with a social conscience. Maiyet's goal is to work in close collaboration with artisans in areas of economic and political conflict -- Columbia, India, South Sudan -- to promote self-sufficiency and entrepreneurship. Maiyet delivers this by uniquely providing the master craftsmen they are in partnership with design direction, access to markets, training, and fair trade financing.

Paul has been recognized around the globe for his work protecting human rights and promoting peace. He accepted a Skoll Award for Social Entrepreneurship in 2009 with Juan Mndez, the former ICTJ President, for their pioneering approach to social change through transitional justice. He received the 2009 Recent Graduate Award from NYU Law, which honors the professional achievements of an alumnus who graduated no more than 10 years ago. He was selected as a Young Global Leader by the World Economic Forum in 2008, as a TED Fellow in 2007, and as one of the "Top 15 lawyers under 40" by New York Lawyer Magazine in 2001. Paul was awarded the prestigious Alexander Prize by the School of Law at Santa Clara University. The prize recognizes lawyers who have used their legal careers to help alleviate injustice and inequity.

Paul is currently a member of the World Economic Forum's Global Agenda Council on Fragile States and has served as an adviser to the Sundance Documentary Film Program. He has also worked as a researcher for the Goldstone Commission, as a department head at the Centre for the Study of Violence and Reconciliation in Johannesburg, and as an associate at Davis Polk and Wardwell in New York.

In tandem with his other work, Paul serves as Director of New York University School of Law's Transitional Justice Program, and teaches law both in New York and Singapore. He obtained a BA and an LLB from the University of the Witwatersrand in Johannesburg and an LLM in International Law from the University of Leiden in the Netherlands. Following these studies, he was accepted into the prestigious Hauser Global Scholars Program at New York University School of Law, where he completed a LLM in Corporate Law.

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