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October 1, 2001

Conference Brings Human Rights
Speakers from Around the World

On Tuesday, Oct. 16, more than a dozen human rights leaders, advocates and scholars from around the world will participate in the University of Connecticut-African National Congress Partnership' s second annual comparative human rights conference, Education for Human Rights: Global Perspectives. The conference will take place in the Rome Commons Ballroom, South Campus, from 8:30 a.m. to 5 p.m.

"This conference will address issues and problems in contemporary society and allow us to begin eradicating hatred and building bridges. Education can help ensure that people are enlightened and can bring us together as one family united by our common humanity," says Amii Omara-Otunnu, associate professor of history, executive director of the Institute of Comparative Human Rights, and executive director of the UConn-ANC Partnership. "Once we understand how much we share, we can begin to respect each other and do away with the incidents and events that cause us harm."

Although the conference had been previously scheduled, it takes on particular significance in light of the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks on the World Trade Center and the Pentagon. It is expected the participants will comment on the attacks and possible future events stemming from them.

"Now more than ever, the teaching of human rights and the comparison of situations all over the world is imperative. Terrorist attacks like those that occurred recently are perpetrated by people who hate others simply because of their beliefs, nationality or appearance," says Omara-Otunnu. "Through our conference and other educational efforts, we hope to liberate individuals and purge them of the intolerance and prejudice that is responsible for events like the recent terrorist attacks in the United States."

The conference participants will discuss human rights in South Africa, China, the Middle East and the U.S.

Invited speakers include:

  • Rudolf Jo—, director, UNESCO division of Peace, Human Rights, Democracy and Tolerance;
  • Lionel Basil Davis, a former political prisoner on Robben Island, South Africa's maximum-security jail where Nelson Mandela was held for decades;
  • Naledi Pandor, chairperson of the National Council of Provinces, South African Parliament;
  • Nasila Rembe, UNESCO Oliver Tambo Chair of Human Rights at the University of Fort Hare, South Africa;
  • Rolf Stumpf, deputy vice chancellor (academic) at the University of Stellenbosch, a premier historically white university in South Africa;
  • Derrick Swartz, vice chancellor of the University of Fort Hare, South Africa's oldest and most distinguished historically black university;
  • Wang Dan, student leader during the Tiananmen Square demonstrations, now an international human rights advocate;
  • Galia Golan, activist for peace and women's rights and professor of government, policy and diplomacy, Recanati International School, Herzlia, Israel; and
  • Raji Sourani, director of the Palestinian Centre for Human Rights.

The UConn-ANC Partnership promotes international understanding and cooperation between South Africa and the U.S. Founded in March 1999, it has three components: comparative human rights, a program to disseminate information on, and raise consciousness about, human rights globally; archives; and oral history.

The partnership is a key element in the University's goal to foster international education and research in the area of human rights.

The conference is the second in a series of comparative human rights conferences under the auspices of the partnership.

To register for the conference, call (860) 486-0647.

Allison Thompson

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