The third biennial Thomas J. Dodd Prize in International Justice and Human Rights will be awarded jointly to the Center for Justice and Accountability and Mental Disability Rights International on Oct. 1.
The 11 a.m. prize ceremony, on the plaza of the Thomas J. Dodd Research Center, is the first of three human rights-related events that will open the month of October.
The second, which follows the ceremony, is a 1:30 p.m. program and book signing with U.S. Sen. Christopher Dodd, whose first book, Letters From Nuremberg: My Father’s Narrative of a Quest for Justice, will be released Sept. 11.
Then at 4 p.m. on Oct. 2, Harold Koh, dean of the Yale Law School and an internationally acclaimed leader in human rights, will deliver the 13th Raymond and Beverly Sackler Distinguished Lecture on Human Rights with a talk entitled, “Repairing our Human Rights Reputation.”
“Clustering these three wonderful events into a 24-hour period will allow the UConn community and guests a rare opportunity to immerse themselves in a variety of issues concerning human rights, which has become a very important part of UConn’s academic identity,” says Thomas Wilsted, director of the Dodd Center.
The Center for Justice and Accountability (CJA) is an international human rights organization dedicated to ending torture and other severe human rights abuses around the world, and advancing the rights of survivors to seek truth, justice and redress.
The San Francisco based non-governmental organization uses litigation to hold perpetrators individually accountable for human rights abuses, develop human rights law, and advance the rule of law in countries transitioning from periods of abuse.
Founded in 1998 with support from Amnesty International and the United Nations Voluntary Fund for Victims of Torture, the CJA has won judgments against a Bosnian war criminal, a mayor of Beijing, two Salvadoran ministers of defense and a vice minister of defense, a Honduran chief of military intelligence, a Chilean death squad member, and a Haitian parliamentary leader.
Pamela Merchant, director of CJA, will accept the center’s award.
Mental Disability Rights International (MDRI) is the world’s leading international human rights group dedicated to the protection of people with mental disabilities.
MDRI works to promote the human rights and full participation in society of children and adults with mental disabilities worldwide.
Founded in 1993, MDRI has worked in 24 countries throughout Latin America, Eastern Europe, and the Middle East.
Drawing upon the skills and experience of mental health professionals, human rights advocates, and people with mental disabilities and their family members, the organization trains and supports advocates seeking legal and service system reform.
It also assists governments in developing laws and policies to promote community integration and human rights enforcement for people with mental disabilities.
Eric Rosenthal, executive director of MDRI, and associate director Laurie Ahern will accept the award.
UConn has had a robust human rights program for more than a decade, and now enrolls more than 80 students in its human rights minor, an interdepartmental, interdisciplinary program that includes an internship with a human rights related organization, agency, or group.
This semester, the program is expanding to include a graduate certificate program in human rights, developed in conjunction with the UConn School of Law.
The University also recently became home to the Journal of Human Rights. Richard Hiskes, director of the human rights minor, is serving as editor.
Sen. Dodd’s book is highlighted by a collection of letters that his father, Thomas R. Dodd, wrote to his wife Grace from the summer of 1945 through the fall of 1946, while he was chief prosecutor at the Nuremberg Trials.
During that period, Nazi leaders were tried for war crimes and crimes against humanity.
The archive building is named for the senior Dodd. It houses many of his papers and dozens of letters to his wife.