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Former U.N. Official to Address VLS Conference on Genocide

September 23, 2008

SOUTH ROYALTON, VT — Juan E. Méndez, the former United Nations’ Special Advisor on the Prevention of Genocide, will be the keynote speaker when Vermont Law School hosts the 2008 annual conference of the International Law Students Association on Oct. 2–4, 2008.

The conference, “Understanding Genocide: Prevention, Prosecution and Progress,” will draw top scholars and human rights advocates from around the country to the VLS campus to explore what constitutes genocide and what can be done about such atrocities.

Panel discussions will address topics such as environmental conflict and genocide, gender issues and the genocide of Native Americans. The roles of the International Court of Justice and special international tribunals will also be explored. On Oct. 3, an afternoon panel will include survivors of genocide who will offer their personal perspectives.

“This conference will give us the opportunity to better understand why genocide occurs, especially through the eyes of survivors and those who represent them,” said Ashley Santner, co-chair of the law school’s chapter of the International Law Society, which is organizing the event.

The keynote address, “The United Nations and the Prevention of Genocide,” will be delivered in the Chase Center at noon on Oct. 4. The public is invited and no registration is necessary to attend the keynote address.

Mr. Méndez, a native of Argentina, knows firsthand the brutality of human rights abuse. As a lawyer representing political prisoners in his homeland, he was arrested by the military dictatorship in the 1970s and tortured by his captors for more than a year.

Mr. Méndez spent the next three decades working tirelessly as a human rights advocate with groups such as Human Rights Watch and the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights before being named president of the International Center for Transitional Justice (ICTJ). As U.N. special advisor from 2004 to 2007, he visited Darfur and Sudan, and also addressed atrocities in the Democratic Republic of Congo and other regions.

For a detailed listing of the conference’s panels and registration, please visit the conference website.

Contact: Diane Derby, Director of Media Relations

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