Monday, 22 November 2010

Tenth Anniversary of Irish Centre for Human Rights

From left, David Scheffer, David Norris and Doug Cassel.
Over the past weekend, we celebrated the tenth anniversary of the Irish Centre for Human Rights. Actually, it has its origins in the early 1980s, with Kevin Boyle and Mary Robinson, who launched a unit at the National University of Ireland, Galway in response to a general appeal from the Council of Europe. Both Kevin and Mary send video messages to the gala dinner we held here on Friday evening.
The two main events were the dinner and a conference on the theme of 'New Rights, Forgotten Rights'. Keynote speakers were Prof. Andrew Clapham, who addressed questions relating to the spread of human rights to non-state entities, and Prof. Leila Sadat, who spoke on draft Convention on Crimes Against Humanity.
Friday's gala dinner was a wonderful celebration, hosted by the exuberant Senator David Norris. It was fabulously organised by Yvonne McDermott, one of our doctoral students. There were nearly 200 people in attendance, many of them former students who travelled great distances to be back in Galway and to share in the infectious spirit of the Centre.
The highlight of the dinner was a remote skype meeting with Shawan Jabarin, graduate of the 2004-5 LLM class and now the director of El Haq, the very distinguished Palestinian NGO. The Israeli government would not let Shawan travel to Galway to receive an award from the Centre. As always, Shawan inspired us enormously with his courage, his modesty and his warmth.
There were many honoured guests and long-time friends of the Centre in attendance, including Judge Daniel Nsereko of the International Criminal Court, Prof. Emmanuel Decaux of the Université de Paris II, Prof. David Scheffer of Northwestern University, Prof. Joshua Castellino and Dr Nadia Bernaz from Middlesex University, and Prof. Doug Cassel of the Notre Dame Centre for Civil and Human Rights. We were piped in for dinner by Don Ferencz. The President of NUI Galway, Jim Browne, made a wonderful opening speech. Music was provided by Orna Joyce and Rick Lines, both of them students currently enrolled in our programmes.
We should get a full report and guest list together with photographs of the event up on the Centre's website in the coming days.

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