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October 16 Human Rights Conference to Bring Speakers from Around the World (Released: 09/27/01)

By Allison Thompson, Office of University Communications

STORRS, Conn. -- On Tuesday, October 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, in Storrs, from 8:30 a.m. to 5 p.m. [Go To Schedule]

"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, which stand as one of the worst human rights abuses ever committed, 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 United States.

Invited speakers include:

  • Rudolf Joó, director, UNESCO division of human rights, democracy, peace 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;
  • 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, a student leader and activist during the Tiananmen Square demonstrations;
  • Galia Golan, professor emeritus in the department of political science at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem; and
  • Raji Sourani, director general of the Palestinian Center 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, which focuses on dissemination of information on, and raises consciousness about, human rights; archives; and oral history. Under the terms of the partnership, UConn has been designated as the ANC's North American partner in preserving the ANC archival materials. Other partnership activities include recording and transcribing the oral histories of ANC party members and leaders, and training South African historians.

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 UConn-ANC Partnership. The University has also designated this fall as a Human Rights Semester, intended to underscore the importance of human rights and to inform and engage members of the University community and interested members of the public about this critical topic.

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

Education for Human Rights: Global Perspectives

8:30-8:50 a.m. Registration

9-9:05 a.m. UConn Voices of Freedom

9:05 a.m. Welcoming Remarks and Introduction of UNESCO representative by UConn President Philip E. Austin

9:10 a.m. Official Conference Opening by Ambassador Rudolf Joo, director, UNESCO Division of Human Rights, Democracy, Peace and Tolerance

9:25 a.m. Introduction of Keynote Speaker by Amii Omara-Otunnu, executive director of the UConn-ANC Partnership and director of the Institute of Comparative Human Rights

9:30-10:10 a.m. Keynote Address, Good Governance and the Right to Education as a Partnership Towards Human Rights Education, by The Honorable Naledi Pandor, chairperson of the National Council of Provinces, South African Parliament

10:15 a.m. Break

10:30 a.m.-12 p.m. Plenary Session on South Africa
Speakers: Lionel Basil Davis, Meshack Masuku, Rolf Stumpf, Derrick Swartz and Mukesh Vassen. Chaired by Nasila Rembe.

12:10 p.m. Luncheon

1:30-3 p.m. Plenary Session
Speakers: Wang Dan, Galia Golan, Raji Sourani, Allison M. Dussias
Chaired by Nell Newton, dean of the University of Connecticut School of Law

3 p.m. Break

3:15-4:15 p.m. Question and Answer Session featuring all of the day's speakers and chaired by Amii Omara-Otunnu

4:20 p.m. Introduction of Concluding Speaker by UConn Chancellor John Petersen

4:25-4:45 p.m. Concluding Address, Higher than Hope: Education and the Dilemma of Liberation, by Donald Spivey

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