CONTACT: SCOTT HAUSER
100 Old Public Library
Iowa City IA 52242
(319) 384-0007; fax (319) 384-0024
Nobel winners Wiesel and Menchu speaking at UI in 1998
IOWA CITY, Iowa -- Nobel Peace Prize winners Elie Wiesel and Rigoberta
Menchu Tum will speak at the University of Iowa during 1998 as a part of
a university-wide celebration of the 50th anniversary of the Universal
Declaration of Human Rights, a planning committee has announced.
Wiesel, a Holocaust survivor who was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize in
1986, and Menchu, an activist for Mayan rights in Guatemala who won the
prize in 1992, have accepted invitations to speak on campus. They are two
of several major figures in human rights circles expected to come to the
UI during the next year.
Invitations also have been extended to Bishop Desmond Tutu of South
Africa, former Philippine president Corazon Acquino, and former Republic
of Ireland President Mary Robinson, who is the new United Nations High
Commissioner for Human Rights.
International law professor Burns H. Weston, chair of the Human Rights
'98 committee, says the commitment of such luminaries as Wiesel and Menchu
has gotten programming for the year-long celebration off to a bold start.
Dates for each appearance will be announced as they become available.
The committee continues to seek comments, suggestions and support from
interested people and groups who would like to participate in planning
events and activities related to human rights, domestic as well as international.
"We are delighted that Elie Wiesel and Rigoberta Menchu have accepted
our invitations to come to the University of Iowa to help all of us on
campus and throughout the state renew our commitment to human rights,"
Weston says. "But I also want to extend an invitation to campus, community
and state organizations to join us in planning, organizing and celebrating
this historic milestone."
UI President Mary Sue Coleman says the 50th anniversary of the Universal
Declaration of Human Rights is an opportunity for the campus community
to reflect on the important role concepts of human rights have for educational
institutions and for society.
"We hope all Iowans will join us in commemorating the 50th anniversary
of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights," Coleman says. "Without
fundamental ideals of freedom of thought, expression, association, and
other basic principles, the University of Iowa -- and the United States
-- would be vastly different. Unfortunately, not everyone in the world
is able to enjoy those same freedoms."
Spelling out freedoms, legal protections and other guidelines that signatory
nations have pledged to follow, the Universal Declaration of Human Rights
is among the most influential instruments of international law in the last
half century, Weston says. The declaration was adopted by the United Nations
General Assembly on Dec. 10, 1948.
Weston, Bessie Dutton Murray Professor and associate dean for the International
and Comparative Law Program at the UI, said organizers hope the year beginning
Dec. 10, 1997 will be a chance for educators, civic groups, and citizens
to reflect on the importance of human rights in their lives and the lives
At its first fall meeting, the committee also unveiled a logo to be
used for all activities connected with the celebration.
Other proposed activities, intended for the fall 1998 semester or the
1998-99 academic year include:
-- A campus-wide lecture series featuring distinguished human rights
scholars and activists;
-- Topically oriented panel discussions with international civil servants,
governmental representatives, scholars, and activists from the Non-Governmental
Organizations community (for example, Amnesty International and Physicians
for Human Rights);
-- Collegiate and departmental projects and events, including curricular
initiatives, cross-departmental and otherwise;
-- Articles and symposia in UI publications and journals, such as Transnational
Law and Contemporary Problems (TLCP is a 6-year-old student-faculty international
and comparative law journal published by the College of Law. A tentative
title for the fall 1998 issue is, "The Universal Declaration at Fifty:
The Next Half Century");
-- Publication of essays or articles about human rights in the fall
1998 issue of the Iowa Law Review;
-- A book of commissioned essays to be published by a distinguished
-- Explorations of curricular approaches to teaching human rights at
the K-12, undergraduate, graduate and law school levels;
-- Cultural events at Hancher Auditorium, the University Theatres, the
University of Iowa Film Series, the University of Iowa Art Museum, University
of Iowa School of Music, and others;
-- Programming on WSUI-KSUI and other radio and TV stations;
-- Activities of local civic institutions and associations, such as
the Iowa Division of the United Nations Association-USA and the Iowa City
Foreign Relations Council.
For more information, contact James Leaven, Division of Sponsored Programs,
100 Gilmore Hall, The University of Iowa, Iowa City, IA 52242-1320, (319)
335-2128; e-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org