Human rights conference at UD features big names

Leading advocates from the United Nations, Doctors Without Borders and others will come together at the University of Dayton next month for a conference that will study the future of human rights and “what are we doing, what more can we do and how can we do it better?”

“The Social Practice of Human Rights: Charting the Frontiers of Research and Advocacy” conference will include speakers Juan Mendez, U.N. special rapporteur on torture, and Alex de Waal, executive director of the World Peace Foundation, along with panelists, including Dayton native Tony Hall, a three-time Nobel Peace Prize nominee, former U.S. congressman and former U.S. Ambassador to the U.N. Agencies for Food and Agriculture.

“It’s been 65 years since the United Nations adopted the Declaration of Human Rights,” said Mark Ensalaco, University of Dayton director of human rights research. “We think it’s time for some introspection and a constructive critique of advocacy — what we’re doing. Are we really having the impact that we hope?”

The three-day conference begins Thursday, Oct. 3, with a concert by the Dayton Philharmonic Chamber Orchestra performing works inspired by challenges to human rights. Research presentations will take place Friday, Oct. 4, according to UD.

Waal’s talk at 7:30 p.m. Friday is free and open to the public at the 1700 S. Patterson building. It continues the university’s 2013-14 “Human Rights: A Global Challenge” speaker series.

Mendez will speak Saturday by video for conference attendees. Registration for the conference is $200 and includes all meals.

For more information and to register, go online to

The theme continues in November with a concert by Peter Buffett, Emmy Award-winning musician, author and philanthropist and son of Warren Buffett. His “Life Is What You Make It: A Concert & Conversation with Peter Buffett” will benefit the University of Dayton human rights studies program, and will be held at 7:15 p.m., Nov. 12, at the Victoria Theatre. Tickets are on sale now.

The conference and other events are part of UD’s commitment and process to establish a human rights center, the school said.

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