Honoring human rights
The history and politics of human rights, from ancient times, to the modern-day plight of child soldiers in Africa, were discussed as part of the 2008 Harriet Elliott Lecture Series in October.
Ishmael Beah, who was conscripted as a child soldier in his war-torn home country of Sierra Leone, delivered the keynote address Children at War in Aycock Auditorium.
The lectures were part of Human Rights Week at UNCG Oct. 27-31. This year marks the 60th anniversary of the United Nation's Universal Declaration of Human Rights.
Beah's 2007 memoir A Long Way Gone: Memoirs of a Boy Solder recounts the years he spent as a teenage soldier followed by his long journey toward self-forgiveness and healing.
Other lectures included:
- Back to the Future? The 60th Anniversary of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights by Dr. Micheline Ishay, author of A History of Human Rights from Ancient Times to the Era of Globalization. Ishay is a professor and director of the International Human Rights Program at the University of Denver, the largest interdisciplinary human rights program in the United States.
- Back Together Again: The Challenge of Post-Conflict and Post-Dictatorship Societies by Dr. Jean-Marie Kamatali. A law professor focusing on international human rights and comparative constitutional law, Kamatali was a member of the human rights community in Rawanda before, during and after that country's notorious 1994 genocide.
- The U.N. as an Agent of International Human Rights: Problems, Pitfalls and Potential by Reverend Canon Samir Habiby. Born in Haifa, Habiby became a United States citizen in 1964. A retired Episcopalian priest, he has served as a church liaison on humanitarian affairs with several United States government departments and agencies. Habiby was a military chaplain in Vietnam and received a Purple Heart and two Bronze Star medals.
- Dr. Thomas F. Jackson, associate professor of history at UNCG, concluded the lectures with a look at Human Rights and the African-American Freedom Struggle. Jackson's book Martin Luther King: From Civil Rights to Human Rights earned the prestigious Liberty Legacy Foundation Award for the year's best book on any aspect of the civil rights struggle since the nation's founding. He is the recipient of two fellowships from the Virginia Foundation for the Humanities at the University of Virginia. Jackson is currently working on a book titled Jobs and Freedom: The Black Revolt of 1963 and the Contested Meanings of the March on Washington.