March 20, 2008
Vol. 27 No. 12

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    Human rights proponents will explore prevention, remedies for genocide

    By Julia Morse
    News Office

    One of five approved projects being funded, in part, by the Darfur Action and Education Fund this year is the conference, “Genocide: Crimes Unpunished, Lessons Unlearned,” which will welcome to the University scholars and policy-makers from around the world.

    “The persistence of genocide today represents a tremendous challenge for the human rights regime,” said Susan Gzesh, Director of the Human Rights Program. “Our conference will bring together academics, United Nations officials and civil society representatives to discuss the prevention of and remedies for genocide.”

    The conference—to be held Friday, April 4 and Saturday, April 5—aims to increase awareness about genocide with the goal of encouraging activism and promoting change, and will explore several topics, including the historical presence of genocide and what is happening today around the world.

    Ambassador Francis Deng, Special Adviser to the United Nations Secretary General for the Prevention of Genocide and Mass Atrocities, will deliver the keynote address at 4 p.m. Friday, April 4 at International House. Deng also serves as a research professor at Johns Hopkins University’s School for Advanced International Studies, is director of the SAIS Center for Displacement Studies and is a senior fellow at Brookings Institution.

    Three panel discussions will take place Saturday, April 5. The first, “Defining the ‘Crime without a Name,’ ” will compare several examples of genocide and explore possible solutions that would prevent it.

    Panelists will include Marie Fleming, professor of philosophy at Florida State University; Juan Mendez, president of the International Center for Transitional Justice and former Special Adviser to the United Nations Secretary General on the Prevention of Genocide; and Ervin Staub, director emeritus of Psychology of Peace and the Prevention of Violence program in the department of psychology at the University of Massachusetts.

    The second panel, “Prevention and Response,” will examine responses to genocide, including national and international, legal and social action, and how these responses have impacted the occurrence of genocide.

    Panelists for this session will be Hasia Diner, the Paul S. and Sylvia Steinberg professor of American Jewish history at New York University; Gerald Gahima, a judge on the Bosnia War Crimes Panel and former vice president of the Supreme Court of Rwanda; Chuck Meyers, senior program associate of Facing History and Ourselves; and Kathleen Young, professor of anthropology at Western Washington University.

    “Confronting Darfur,” the third panel, will address the conflict in the Darfur region of the Sudan, the international response to the crisis and possible solutions for restoring peace in the region.

    Speakers on this panel will be Vincent Nmehielle, principal defender on the Special Court for Sierra Leone; Ambassador David Scheffer, the Mayer Brown and Robert A. Helman professor of law and director of the Center for International Human Rights at Northwestern University School of Law and the former U.S. Ambassador-At-Large for War Crimes Issues; and Samuel Totten, professor of curriculum and instruction at the College of Education and Health Professions at the University of Arkansas.

    Meyers, of Facing History and Ourselves, also will lead a teacher-training workshop titled, “Teaching Genocide,” following the panel discussions.

    The conference, which is free and open to the public, will be held at International House, 1414 E. 59th St.

    A complete schedule of conference events is available at http://humanrights.uchicago.edu/genocide_conference.shtml.