By Magdalena Bexell from Sweden

The first talk this semester in the I-House Lodestar Program series was held by human rights law professor, Virginia Leary. Lodestar programs bring together residents, alumni, and guests to talk about current international issues. Professor Leary is a visiting professor at Hastings College of the Law in San Francisco. She combines her role as a human rights scholar with that of a human rights activist. She is a member of the Board of Directors of Human Rights Watch Asia.

The topic of her talk was what should be done about the guilty when massive human rights violations occur and a transition from military rule to democracy has taken place. This is a very hot topic now as the world considers the case of former Chilean dictator, Augusto Pinochet. The outcome of this case provides an important precedent for future work to support human rights around the world.

Professor Leary also discussed the role of Truth Commissions that have been formed in many countries after a transition to democratic rule has taken place.

Leary concluded that extraordinary things are happening right now in the area of human rights concerning liability and legal development. The Pinochet case demonstrates this as well as the establishment of a permanent International Criminal Court, but it is still a slow process that faces many grave obstacles.


Excerpted from the first edition of I-House News, a publication written by residents.

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