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Armed conflict conference speakers to include former Guantanamo Bay prosecutor, Lost Boy of the Sudan


Contact:Rachel Hatch

Children in war, torture at Guantanamo, and drone warfare will be the topics of the first ever Human Rights and International Humanitarian Law Conference, Tuesday, Sept. 17 to Saturday, Sept. 21, at Illinois State University. The conference is free and open to the public.

Associate Professor of Politics and Government Michaelene Cox, who is coordinating the conference, said she hopes the speakers will help educate the public about rules governing international and non-international armed conflict. “It sounds pretty idealistic to talk of ‘rules governing war’ when we hear about atrocities that occur – from genocide to other war crimes,” said Cox, who was awarded a grant from the United States Institute of Peace (USIP) to help fund the conference. “But the protections established by treaties preserve dignity as well as lives and cultural objects. Though it is unlikely we will ever eradicate warfare, the least we can do is lessen the damage that can be done.”

Other sponsors of the conference include the American Red Cross and Illinois State’s Women & Gender Studies Program and International Seminar Series.

The conference will include:

Drones, Secrecy, and the War on Terror from Lesley Wexler of the University of Illinois College of Law at 3 p.m., Tues, Sept 17, in Williams Hall, Room 128. Wexler joined the Illinois Law School faculty in fall 2010, teaching laws of war and other classes. She specializes in international humanitarian law and human rights law. Wexler will discuss arguments for and against governmental secrecy in the fight against terrorism.

Building It Up Then Knocking It Down: The United States and the Development and Denigration of International Humanitarian Law presented by Col. (ret.) Morris Davis at 3 p.m., Wed, Sept 18, in DeGarmo Hall, Room 206. Davis will discuss how international humanitarian law – more commonly called the law of war – evolved over centuries of armed conflict, and the role of the U.S. today. Davis is a retired Air Force colonel who served as chief prosecutor for the military commissions at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, from 2005-2007, when he resigned due to political interference in the trials and pressure to use evidence obtained by torture. 

Children in War  from Gabriel Bol Deng at 3 p.m., Thurs, Sept 19 in Stevenson Hall, Room 101. Bol Deng was a Sudanese refugee/war orphan, one of the Lost Boys of Sudan. He will share his harrowing experiences in South Sudan and his inspiring efforts after resettling in the U.S.

International Humanitarian Law Workshop , conducted by the American Red Cross, will be Sat, Sept 21, from 1 p.m. to 5 p.m. in DeGarmo Hall, Room 206. The workshop is free, but entrance is limited. Participants need to register with Cox at (309) 438-8923. Certificates will be issued for participation.

The USIP is the independent, nonpartisan conflict management center created by Congress to prevent and mitigate international conflict without resorting to violence. USIP works to save lives, increase the government’s ability to deal with conflict before they escalate, reduce government costs and enhance national security. USIP is headquartered in Washington, D.C., with offices in Baghdad and Kabul, Afghanistan. The opinions, findings, and conclusions or recommendations expressed in this program are those of the speakers and do not necessarily reflect the views of the United States Institute of Peace.

For additional information, contact Cox at (309) 438-8923. 

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