April 17, 1997
Vol. 16, No. 15

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    Justice or reconciliation

    Human rights leaders debate issue at conference

    Leading international figures in human rights will speak at the conference "Justice or Reconciliation," to be held Friday, April 25, and Saturday, April 26, at the Law School and at Hotel Intercontinental, 505 N. Michigan Ave. The conference, which is co-sponsored by the University's Center for International Studies, is free and open to the public.

    "We will be examining a number of important questions, such as in what circumstances is the use of the judicial process preferable to 'truth telling' as part of reconciliation," said Rashid Khalidi, Professor in History and Director of the Center for International Studies. "We will also be looking at emerging democracies to see if prosecutions of former human rights violators represents 'victors' justice. We want to learn what conditions are necessary for the political possibility of reconciliation."

    The conference will open with speakers Mac Maharaj, minister of transport for the Republic of South Africa, and Judge Jutta Limbach, president of the constitutional court of Germany, who will present the third annual WBEZ Sondra Gair Memorial Lecture. The lecture will be held at 5 p.m. Friday, April 25, at the Hotel Intercontinental.

    Maharaj was an opponent of apartheid under the old regime in South Africa and was imprisoned for 12 years for his activities. He was an alternate delegate to the multiparty negotiations that led to the creation of South Africa's new constitution, and has served in his current position since 1994.

    Limbach, a law professor at the Free University of Berlin, was elected senator of justice of the city and state of Berlin in 1989. She was elected justice and vice-president of the German constitutional court in 1994 and president later that year.

    The conference will continue Saturday, April 26, at the Law School, where Mahmood Mamdani, professor of African studies at the University of Cape Town, and Juan Mendez, executive director of the Inter-American Institute of Human Rights, will speak at 9:30 a.m. Responding to their talks will be Jacqueline Bhabha, Lecturer in the Law School and Associate Director of the Center for International Studies; Michael Geyer, Professor in History; and John Comaroff, the Harold H. Swift Distinguished Service Professor in Anthropology.

    At 2 p.m., Mendez and Mamdani will be on a panel with Maharaj and Judge Richard Goldstone of the constitutional court of South Africa. Chairing the panel will be Provost Geoffrey Stone.

    In addition to the Center for International Studies, co-sponsors of the event are WBEZ-FM; the Midwest Coalition for Human Rights; and the World Trade Center, Chicago.

    For more information, call the Center for International Studies at 702-7721.