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UW-Madison International Conference on Darfur

March 29, 2007

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
DATE: Thursday, March 29, 2007
CONTACT: Sharon E. Hutchinson, Professor of Anthropology and African Studies, University of Wisconsin-Madison, 608-262-2866 or 262-7381; or James Delehanty, Faculty Associate, African Studies Program, UW-Madison, (608) 262-4458; or e-mail symposium@africa.wisc.edu
Website: www.africa.wisc.edu

Click here to download the conference program.

Madison, WI — The African Studies Program, the International Institute, the Division of International Studies, Global Studies, and the Humanitarianism and World Order Research Circle at the University of Wisconsin-Madison will jointly sponsor a major international conference on one of the most pressing and pivotal human rights issues of our time: the deepening crisis in Darfur, Sudan.

The two-day symposium, “Disaster in Darfur: Sudan’s Defiance of International Human Rights,” will take place, Friday evening, April 27 and all day Saturday, 28, 2007 and is free and open to the public. Friday evening’s keynote speeches are in Room L160 Elvehjem, in the Chazen Museum of Art complex, 800 University Avenue. Saturday’s events are scheduled in the Pyle Center, 702 Langdon Street.

Leading Sudan scholars from Wisconsin and other universities, as well as international lawyers, investigative journalists, government officials, and human rights activists, all of whom have played prominent roles in addressing the human rights disaster in Darfur, will conduct the symposium.

“This is a major assembly of Sudan specialists and United Nations and other officials, the people directly involved in trying to stop the violence in Darfur,” says Gilles Bousquet, Dean of International Studies. “We hope that community groups and individuals in Wisconsin who are engaged in human rights work will join interested faculty, students, and staff of the University for this landmark symposium.”

Friday Keynote Speakers – L160 Elvehjem

Events on Friday evening will begin at 6.30 p.m. and will include presentations by Mr. Juan Mendez, who is currently the U.N. Secretary General’s Special Advisor on the Prevention of Genocide, and by Mr. Oliver Ulich, who heads the Sudan desk in the U.N.’s Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs.

Saturday Speakers and Roundtable Discussions will take place at the Pyle Center, beginning at 8:30 a.m.

  • Johan Cels, Senior Policy Advisor for the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees
  • Richard Williamson, former U.S. Ambassador to the UN Commission on Human Rights
  • Eric Reeves, Darfur human rights activist and professor of English, Smith College
  • Fatima Haroun, Vice President, Darfur Alert Coalition
  • Alex de Waal, Director of Justice Africa, author, and activist
  • Suliman Baldo, Deputy Director, Middle East and North Africa Program, International Center for Transitional Justice
  • Julie Flint, independent investigative journalist
  • Abdullahi an-Na`im, Professor of Law, Emory University
  • Jok Madut Jok, Associate Professor of History, Loyola Marymount University

The symposium is designed to speak directly to growing public concern, frustration, and uncertainty over the blatant inability of some of the world’s most powerful institutions (including the UN, the International Criminal Court, the African Union, the Arab League, NATO, the U.S. Government, the European Union, and numerous international humanitarian agencies and human rights organizations) to halt the government-orchestrated, military violence that has destroyed “non-Arab/African” civilian populations in western Sudan and, increasingly, in eastern Chad, since early 2003.

The recent decision of the University of Wisconsin Board of Regents to bar all investments in international companies doing business with Sudan is one indication of how pronounced public concern over the genocide in Darfur has become. Yet, public confusion over the nature of this geo-political “stand-off” and over its implications for the future of the international human rights remains widespread.

Specific questions the symposium will address are:

  • Why hasn’t the United Nations succeeded in halting the violence?
  • What more could or should the American government do, given its formal recognition of the violence in Darfur as constituting “genocide”?
  • What role has Sudan’s vast oil wealth played in this intensifying geo-political stalemate?

Major support for the symposium has been provided by the Anonymous Fund and the College of Letters and Science. The organizers also wish to thank the Department of Theatre and Drama and the Chazen Museum of Art for kind help.

Related Events

The conference will be preceded by a reading of In Darfur, by Winter Miller. The reading, on Thursday, April 26, at 7:30 p.m. at Luther Memorial Church, 1021 University Avenue, is being produced by the UW-Madison Department of Theatre and Drama. A discussion will follow the play.
A two-day teachers’ workshop, “Teaching Sudan: Understanding the Crisis in Darfur,” also is being organized by the African Studies Program in conjunction with the conference. The sessions will be held on two Mondays, April 16 and 30, from 4:30 p.m. to 7:30 p.m. They are designed to help teachers learn more about the crisis in Darfur and develop curriculum materials. For more information, or to register by April 1st, please contact Heather DuBois Bourenane, Outreach Coordinator, African Studies Program, at: hldubois@wisc.edu.

Biographies of the Speakers

Friday’s Speakers:

  • Juan Mendez

Juan Méndez is the United Nations Special Adviser on the Prevention of Genocide. A native of Lomas de Zamora, Argentina, Méndez has dedicated his legal career to the defense of human rights and has a long and distinguished record of advocacy. Prior to his current position, Méndez served as president of the International Center for Transitional Justice. He spent fifteen years working with Human Rights Watch and served as general counsel for the organization. He has taught international human rights law at Georgetown Law School, the Johns Hopkins School of Advanced International Studies, and the University of Notre Dame, where he also served as director of the Center for Civil and Human Rights. He also teaches regularly at the Oxford Master’s Program in International Human Rights Law in the United Kingdom. He is the recipient of several human rights awards, the most recent being the inaugural Monsignor Oscar A. Romero Award for Leadership in Service to Human Rights from the University of Dayton in April 2000, and the Jeanne and Joseph Sullivan Award from the Heartland Alliance in May 2003. Mendez earned a JD from Stella Maris University in Argentina and a certificate from The American University, Washington College of Law, in Washington, DC. He recently contributed to Explaining Darfur: Lectures on the Ongoing Genocide (2007, Amsterdam University Press) and authored a special report to the United Nations on genocide in Sudan.

  • Oliver Ulich

Oliver Ulich is the Sudan team leader of the UN’s Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA). Working closely with Jan Egeland, who recently stepped down from his position as the UN Undersecretary-General for Humanitarian Affairs and Emergency Relief Coordinator, Ulich has been intimately involved in orchestrating international efforts to provide humanitarian relief to the millions of violently displaced Darfari civilians scattered across western Sudan and eastern Chad since the start of the conflict in 2003. His knowledge of the conflict’s history and of the ever-deepening security and humanitarian challenges it has created for a war-affected population of almost four million is unparalleled.
Saturday’s Speakers in Alphabetical Order:

  • Abdullahi Ahmed An-Na`im:

Abdullahi Ahmed An-Na`im, PhD, is Charles Howard Candler Professor of Law at Emory University. While a law student at the University of Khartoum, Sudan, An-Na’im joined the Islamic reform movement of Ustadh Mahmoud Mohamed Taha in 1968 and continued to participate in its work there until the movement was suppressed in December 1984. An-Na`im served as Executive Director of Africa Watch, now the African Division of Human Rights Watch, based in Washington DC, from June 1993 until April 1995. He joined the Faculty of Emory Law School in June 1995. An internationally recognized scholar of Islam and human rights, as well as human rights in cross-cultural perspectives, his field of study and teaching include international law and human rights, comparative constitutional law, and Islamic law. He has published more than fifty articles and book chapters on human rights, constitutionalism, Islamic law, and politics. An-Na`im holds Bachelor of Laws degree from the University of Khartoum, Sudan; a Bachelor of Laws and a diploma in criminology from the University of Cambridge, England; and a PhD in law from the University of Edinburgh, Scotland. His publications include Toward an Islamic Reformation: Civil Liberties, Human Rights and International Law (1990); editor, Human Rights in Cross-cultural Perspectives: Quest for Consensus (1992); and African Constitutionalism and the Role of Islam (2006).

  • Suliman Baldo:

Suliman Baldo is a widely recognized expert on conflict resolution, emergency relief, development, and human rights in Africa and on international advocacy around these issues. He has worked extensively in the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC), Ethiopia, Eritrea, and the Sudan, and traveled widely throughout the rest of the African continent. In the 1980s and early 1990s, he worked as a lecturer at the University of Khartoum; a Field Director for Oxfam America, covering Sudan and the Horn of Africa; and, later, as the founder and director of Al-Fanar Center for Development Services in Khartoum, Sudan. He also spent seven years at Human Rights Watch as a senior researcher in the Africa division. He also worked as a senior analyst before serving as Director of the Africa program at the International Crisis Group. Currently, he is Deputy Director for the Middle East and North Africa Program at the International Center for Transitional Justice. Baldo holds a PhD in Comparative Literature (1982) and an MA in Modern Literature (1976), both from the University of Dijon in France. He also holds a BA from the University of Khartoum, in the Sudan.

  • Johan Cels

Johan Cels has worked with the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) for more than 15 years. He currently serves as a Senior Policy Advisor (Peace and Security), focusing on Sudan, Chad, and Somalia, as well as on post-conflict recovery and peacebuilding strategies in such countries as Afghanistan, Burundi, Iraq, and Liberia. Prior to his current position, Cels was Project Leader for the independent Commission on Human Security. He is the principal drafter of Human Security Now: Protecting and Empowering People (2003), a report of the Commission on Human Security. Johan Cels holds a master’s degree in economics from the University of Louvain, Belgium, and a PhD in International Relations from the University of Notre Dame. He has served as a visiting research fellow at Oxford University.

  • Julie Flint:

Julie Flint worked for the Guardian and ABC News in Lebanon from 1983 to 1990 and has covered the region intermittently ever since. She remained in West Beirut throughout the hostage crisis of the 1980s and won six awards in Europe and the United States for her coverage in that period. From 1990 to 1992 Flint was a London-based correspondent for the Observer, focusing on the Middle East and the Horn of Africa.

In a 35-year career, Flint has worked for newspapers, radio and television, in more than 20 countries on four continents. Since 1998 she has been a freelance journalist based in London and Beirut, concentrating since 2002 on Darfur. She is co-author (with Alex de Waal) of Darfur: A Short History of a Long War (2006, Zed Books).

  • Fatima Haroun:

Fatima Haroun is Vice President of the Darfur Alert Coalition and one of the leading advocates speaking out on behalf of the people of Darfur. She is a native of Jebel Marra, a beautiful area of Western Darfur that has been destroyed by the Janjaweed militias in recent years. A graduate of Khartoum University, she has an extensive background in rural development in her homeland. Prior to the current genocide, she helped establish women’s training centers that taught rural women handicrafts and marketing skills, as well as providing health and literacy education. She currently is working with Southern Sudan, and is helping form an organization that speaks for Sudanese women in general. In her Darfur advocacy, Haroun, a social worker, has testified at U.S. congressional hearings; been a featured speaker at demonstrations at the White House, the U.S. Holocaust Museum, and the national Save Darfur rally in New York City; and has given many television and newspaper interviews.

  • Jok Madut Jok:

Jok Madut Jok is an associate professor in the Department of History at Loyola Marymount University in Los Angeles. Born and raised in southern Sudan, Jok was in high school when the current round of civil war resumed. The state of constant turmoil led to his political awareness and activism throughout his high school and university career. As a graduate student in Egypt and the United States, he worked on the impact of war on gender relations. Jok has been conducting research in Sudan and refugee camps in the neighboring countries where he chronicled how violence is reproduced within communities and families during times of violent political conflict. He has also conducted numerous other studies on the impact of humanitarian aid in Sudan. He received his PhD in anthropology from the University of California, Los Angeles. Among the books that he has authored are Militarization, Gender, and Reproductive Health in South Sudan (1998, Edwin Mellen Press) and War and Slavery in Sudan: The Ethnography of Political Violence (2001, University of Pennsylvania Press). His latest book, Sudan: Race, Religion, and Violence (Oneworld Publications) will be published in May 2007.

  • Eric Reeves:

Eric Reeves, a professor at Smith College, has written and published extensively on Sudan for the past eight years. He has served as a researcher and consultant to numerous human rights and humanitarian organizations working in Sudan, and has testified formally on Sudan in a variety of governmental forums, including several congressional hearings. His publications have appeared in The Washington Post, Los Angeles Times, the International Herald Tribune, and many major American metropolitan newspapers, as well as international newspapers and journals. Longer essays on Sudan have appeared in Dissent, The Nation, Human Rights Review, and African Studies Review. His work is also published on a weekly basis in a variety of Sudanese magazines, newspapers, and Web sites. The contents of his own Web site (www.sudanreeves.org) are archived by the African Section of the African and Middle Eastern Division of the United States Library of Congress. He serves on the Advisory Board of the U.S. Committee for Refugees (Washington, DC); the Board of Advisors for Genocide Watch and The International Campaign to End Genocide; the Board of Advisors to the Darfur Peace and Development Association; and is a director of the “Schools for Sudan” initiative. He is regularly asked to provide expert commentary on Sudan to the BBC, Radio France International, PBS, NPR, as well as to the major international news services and the foreign correspondents for a wide range of newspaper publications. He is author of A Long Day’s Dying: Critical Moments in the Darfur Genocide (forthcoming, Key Publishing House) and is presently at work on a book-length study of American and international policy responses to Sudan over the past decade.

  • Alex de Waal:

Alex de Waal is a program director at the Social Science Research Council. In that position, de Waal is engaged in projects on HIV/AIDS, social transformation, and emergencies and humanitarian action. He is a fellow of the Global Equity Initiative at Harvard and is director of Justice Africa, London. In his twenty-year career, de Waal has studied the social, political, and health dimensions of famine, war, genocide, and the HIV/AIDS epidemic, especially in the Horn of Africa and the Great Lakes. He has been at the forefront of mobilizing African and international responses to these problems.

De Waal was previously director of research for the United Nations’ Economic Commission on Africa. He earned his doctorate in social anthropology from Oxford University. De Waal has authored numerous books, including Famine that Kills: Darfur, Sudan, 1984-1985 (1989, Oxford University Press), Facing Genocide: The Nuba of Sudan (1995, African Rights), AIDS and Power: Why There is No Political Crisis Yet (2006, Zed Books), and Darfur: A Short History of a Long War (2006, Zed Books), co-authored with Julie Flint.

  • Richard S. Williamson:

Richard S. Williamson is a partner in the law firm of Mayer, Brown, Rowe, & Maw in Chicago, Illinois. His primary practice areas are government relations and international trade, and he has represented corporate clients before the U.S. Congress, as well as federal departments and agencies. In 2004, Williamson served as the Ambassador and U.S. Representative to the United Nations Commission on Human Rights. He currently sits on the Advisory Committee for the International Human Rights Center at DePaul University. Williamson received his BA from Princeton University and his law degree from the University of Virginia School of Law. He is the author of six books, editor of three books, and author of more than 150 articles.

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