Retired High Court judge Michael Kirby has been named the joint winner of a US legal award, the Gruber Justice Prize.

Kirby will share the accolade — and $578,000 in prize money — with South African Professor John Dugard.

Dugard has served on the United Nations International Law Commission and has been involved with humanitarian work in international law.

“I am conscious of the many people with whom I have worked over the years on human rights and justice who are equally deserving of recognition,” Kirby told The Sydney Morning Herald in a statement today.

Kirby went on to say the partners of Gruber Prize winners should also be awarded.

“My partner of 41 years, Johan van Vloten, definitely deserves a prize for putting up with me. Probably the Victoria Cross,” he told the SMH.

Kirby has held several posts with the United Nations over the years, including work with the World Health Organisation Global Commission on AIDS and UNAIDS.

The prize will be officially presented at George Washington University in Washington, DC, on October 11.

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