Universal Declaration of Human Rights 60th Anniversary Colloquium 2008
"The Challenge of Universal Rights: Realizing Dignity and Justice for All"
UICHR co-sponsored a colloquium in commemoration of the 60th Anniversary of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights (UDHR). Information and a detailed schedule on the three-day event can be found in this sectionas well as short biographies of keynotes and other speakers at the event. The Courage of Conviction Award was given to James Leach at the 2008 colloquium; details on the award and recipient can be found below. Our co-sponsors for the colloquium include International Programs, American Civil Liberties Union of Iowa, Iowa United Nations Association, UI College of Law and the Iowa City Foreign Relations Council.
The 2008 UDHR Colloquium marked the launch of "The Articles in Art," a contest open to UI students for the creation of artwork relating to the Articles of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights.
"The Articles in Art" calls for the production of all two and three dimensional media, including fine craft, expressing and exploring the meaning of the Articles or an article in the UDHR, as selected by the student artist. The contest will close with the exhibition of select pieces in Fall 2009 with cash awards for the top selections.
The deadline for submissions is 9/01/2009. More details for this competition will be posted.
Speakers at the colloquium:
Jamil Dakwar is the Director and senior human right attorney of the American Civil Liberties Union Human Rights Working Group, where through litigation and advocacy efforts, he works to ensure social and legal justice. Mr. Dakwar has taken on issues such as US compliance to international human rights standards in the Guantanamo Bay detention facility and US policies on torture. Before joining the ACLU, Mr. Dakwar worked for both Human Rights Watch and Adalah, a human rights organization in Israel. With these two organizations he also researched torture and detention, reporting for Human Rights Watch and arguing cases with Adalah. Fluency in Arabic, Hebrew, English and some French aids his work on international issues. Related to his efforts with the ACLU, Mr. Dakwar is also co-chair of the American Constitution Society’s Working Group on International Law and Constitution, where he studies the human rights issues involved in the compliance of the US Constitution with international law.
As clinician and master class music professor at the University of Iowa and a former chair of the School of Music Voice Area, Katherine Eberle is a distinguished and innovative contributor to music education. As a mezzo-soprano, her specialties include oratorio, chamber music, art song and opera. Professor Eberle has circled the globe, performing solos and roles in opera, competing and teaching in South America, Korea, Trinidad and Tobago, France, and Austria, among many other countries. Her current work, while stationed in Iowa, extends via video-teleconference to other universities across the US and in Germany where she teaches vocal technique, style, diction and repertoire to both university and high school students. Professor Eberle has earned numerous awards and honors, both nationally and internationally, throughout her career for her skill, innovations and educational work.
Karen Engle is the Cecil D. Redford Professor in Law at the University of Texas School of Law, and Director and co-founder of the Bernard and Audre Rapoport Center for Human Rights and Justice. Professor Engle is also a Senior Fellow at the Robert S. Strauss Center for International Security and Law, and a Fulbright Senior Specialist. Her expertise moves beyond law to include Gender and Women’s Studies, Latin-American Studies and International Human rights, with a recent focus on indigenous and Afro-Colombian rights. Many of Professor Engle’s lectures and writings draw on her research in international human rights, including her 2007 Harvard Human Rights Law Journal article “Calling in the Troops: The Uneasy Relationship Among Human Rights, Women’s Rights and Humanitarian Intervention.” Other areas of interest include employment discrimination, public international law and feminist discourse.
Dr. Micheline Ishay is a professor and the Director of the Masters of Arts Program in International Human Rights at the University of Denver’s Joseph Korbel School of International Studies. Professor Ishay’s research bridges disciplines to include studies of human rights, Middle Eastern politics, and international relations, history, methodology and sociology. Throughout her career, Professor Ishay has contributed to many educational programs, including as Director of the Summer in Jerusalem Program, the Institute for the Study of Israel in the Middle East, and the Center on Rights Development at the University of Denver. She has authored a number of books and articles. History of Human Rights, from Ancient Times to the Globalization Era is her most recently published book.
Courage of Conviction Award
The Courage of Conviction Award recognizes an individual who has demonstrated extraordinary commitment to human rights principles. The recipient of this award has shown long-term dedication through effective action to the meaningful advancement of dignity and justice for all people, and remarkable character by giving human rights a voice where it has none. This award recognizes the tremendous strength and integrity required of the individual advocate to act for the common good and the rights of individuals in the face of resistance and opposition, and often at political or personal cost.
Courage of Conviction 2008 recipient: James Leach
Introduction and Biographical Sketch
James Leach served in the US House of Representatives for thirty years representing Eastern Iowa. During his tenure in Congress, he served as the Chairman of the Committee on Banking and Financial Services and became an influential member of the Committee on International Relations and the Subcommittee on Asian and Pacific Affairs. He was a leading advocate of legislation expanding support for AIDS treatment and prevention,international debt relief, and reforming the financial services industry. He is perhaps best known as the principal author of the Gramm-Leach-Blileylaw, which is considered one of the seminal pieces of banking legislation of the 20th century, second in import only to the Federal Reserve Act of 1913.
A native of Davenport, Iowa, he began his career on Capitol Hill in 1966,after graduating from Princeton University in 1964 and earning an M.A. in Soviet politics from The Paul H. Nitze School of Advanced International Studies in 1966. That same year, he worked as a staffer for Congressman Donald Rumsfeld, and later followed Congressman Rumsfeld to the Office of Economic Opportunity. He also earned an additional degree form the London School of Economics in 1968.
As a Foreign Service Officer in the early 1970's assigned to the Arms Control and Disarmament Agency, he served as a delegate to both the United Nations General Assembly and the Geneva Disarmament Conference. In 1973, Leach resigned his commission in protest of the Saturday Night Massacre when Richard Nixon fired his Attorney General, Eliot Richardson, and the independent counsel investigating the Watergate break-in, Archibald Cox. He held various leadership roles in the private sector until his election to the 96th Congress in 1976.
James Leach is currently the John L. Weinberg Visiting Professor of Public and International Affairs at the Woodrow Wilson School at Princeton University, and served last year as interim director of the Institute of Politics at the John F. Kennedy School of Government at Harvard University. Jim Leach also serves on the board of directors of the Century Foundation, the Kettering Foundation and the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace, and is an honorary member of the University of Iowa Center for Human Rights. He is Chair of the National Governing Board of Common Cause, although he has been on voluntary leave from this position through the November 2008 election. He has received several honorary degrees and awards, and international recognition, including the Wayne Morse Integrity in Politics Award and the Adlai Stevenson Award from the United Nations Association.
Statement of Recognition and Award
The University of Iowa Center for Human Rights recognizes through the Courage of Conviction Award an individual who has demonstrated extraordinary commitment to human rights principles. The recipient of this award has shown long-term dedication through effective action to the meaningful advancement of dignity and justice for all people, and remarkable character by giving human rights a voice where it has none. This award recognizes the tremendous strength and integrity required of the individual advocate to act for the common good and the rights of individuals in the face of resistance and opposition, and often at political or personal cost.
This year, the inaugural year for this award, The University of Iowa honors James Leach.
From improving the peace keeping response of the UN, to supporting human rights defenders in Southeast Asia, to calling on the US to meet its treaty obligations, to encouraging multilateral approaches to poverty reduction and international debt relief, Jim Leach has championed the principles of the UN Charter, the cause of international peace and the Universal Declaration of Human Rights throughout his public service. Richard Stanley explains the internationalist perspective that has informed Jim Leach’s significant contributions to the realization of these principles this way: "Jim's outlook on international relations is constructive and multilateral. He believes the United States should continue to be active in the affairs of the world. He believes we need to work constructively and cooperatively with other nations of the world and build and strengthen multilateral institutions such as the United Nations. In dealing with others, he seeks to find areas of common interest on which to build, rather than emphasizing differences that divide. He understands that the world is increasingly interconnected and interdependent.”
In particular, we honor his votes of conscience to end U.S. use of torture and in support of peace during one of the most partisan periods in our history. In 2002, Mr. Leach voted against authorizing military force in Iraq and declaring Iraq a part of the “War on Terror”, a vote that put him at odds with the majority of both Democrats and Republicans. In 2005, he supported a ban on cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment of detainees held by U.S. forces and to require the military to follow the Army field manual for interrogations. He voted against the Military Commission Act of 2006 that allowed the US military to conceal the methods used to obtain evidence used against suspects. On these matters and others, Jim Leach spoke his conscience in defiance of political winds to support the cause of human rights.
In a tribute to his openness of heart and problem-solving approach to many of the most polarizing concerns we face in the world today, he has not only worked across party lines, but also across public and private sector divides to engage civil society in as partners with government in pressing forward with the urgent and continuing struggle for human rights.
Former Secretary of State Madeleine K. Albright provided a statement of support:
"Congressman Jim Leach is the finest example of a dedicated public servant who not only represented his constituents brilliantly, but also advanced the cause of all those throughout the world who were not able to speak for themselves. His integrity and dedication will always be the gold standard for public service."
An anecdote shared by the University of Iowa’s own Chris Merrill eloquently illustrates Leach’s commitments as a public servant:
“The congressman wanted to discuss a new poll--not, as I imagined, the one showing that two days hence he would win the most tightly contested election of his career, but rather a poll taken halfway around the world, in South Korea. This poll revealed that a majority of South Koreans had a more favorable impression of the Japanese, who over the centuries had repeatedly invaded the Korean Peninsula, than of the Americans, who had fought a bitter war on their behalf and still patrol the demilitarized zone between North and South Korea. What concerned Jim Leach in the fall of 2002 was the erosion of support for American foreign policy, which he knew would complicate our relations with the rest of the world. What impressed me was his determination to think through the consequences of our actions here and abroad. The essence of public service: to view the issues of the day through the largest possible lens, serving your constituents and country judiciously. Jim Leach sees clearly. Nor is he afraid to vote his conscience. He is an exemplary public figure, a wise man, a friend to Iowans--and to good hearted people everywhere.”
Michael Posner, president of Human Rights First, has shared the following about this quality and in recognition of this occasion:
“I want to add my congratulations to Jim Leach, the 2008 recipient of the Courage of Conviction Award. During his three decades in Congress, Jim Leach was a great friend to Human Rights First and the entire human rights community. As an active leader of the House International Relations Committee, he was principled and outspoken in his commitment to human rights and he served as a source of strength for human rights advocates everywhere.
From the 1980s, when Congress confronted issues involving military dictatorships in Latin America and the Soviet Gulag, to more contemporary human rights challenges in China, and in various places in Africa and the Middle East, Jim Leach has always been a voice for the voiceless, but also a practical leader who knows how to get things done. In the mid-1980s, as part of a global effort to combat torture around the world, we at Human Rights First asked Congressman Leach to lead the Congressional effort to adopt the Torture Victim Protection Act. Because of his leadership, this law now provides access to U.S. courts for torture victims from around the world.
In a political world where partisan differences too often derail progress, Jim Leach has been a bridge builder, putting principle ahead of partisanship. It is altogether fitting for him to be honored in this way by the University of Iowa – for Jim leach truly is a man with the courage of his convictions.
And Gillian Sorenson, Senior Adviser and National Advocate, United Nations Foundation and Former Assistant Secretary-General, United Nations, remarks:
It is both fitting and timely that the University of Iowa's Center for Human Rights, meeting on the 60th Anniversary of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights (UDHR), honors James A. Leach with its Courage of Conviction Award.
Jim Leach’s lifelong commitment to human rights in all its dimensions is exemplary. He is a man who put principle above party, who spoke truth to power, who gave voice to those who had no champion. He has been a staunch friend of the United Nations and defender of human rights. At a time when Americans have witnessed disregard of international law, acceptance of torture and selective adherence to the highest standard of human rights for which this country used to be a beacon—Jim Leach has been a leader of uncommon integrity, vision and character.
Many in the United Nations community join me in sending warm congratulations to Jim Leach and everlasting thanks for his leadership and service.
The Honorable Timothy E. Wirth, President, United Nations Foundation and Better World Fund, upon hearing of Jim Leach’s nomination for this award, contributed these remarks:
"Jim Leach is an ideal recipient for the 2008 Courage of Conviction award. For three decades, Jim has championed his values -- for the democratic process,bipartisanship, international cooperation, human rights and environmental protection.The range of issues and interests he has worked on reflects his significant intellectual curiosity and capability. And he has earned his legendary reputation for personal integrity through honorable service and hard work. The citizens of Iowa, the United States and the world have been enriched by Jim's distinguished career of public service.
I am pleased to join in congratulating Jim Leach on receipt of the 2008 Courage of Conviction award."
In recognition of James Leach:
Jim Leach has stated that "...politics may be said to be the work of translating principle into practice." In significant and thoughtful ways throughout his lifetime of service, Jim Leach has put the principles articulated in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights into practice, even when politically difficult, ennobling the work of politics in the process and helping create a world with dignity and justice for all.
It is a privilege to award James Leach, in recognition of this service to the cause of human rights, the Courage of Conviction Award for 2008.