Prof: Crimes Against Humanity Impact Us All

Alexandria Smith, Reporter

Students and staff will explore crimes against humanity during a lecture made perhaps even more timely in light of world events.

The lecture, “The World-Wide Crimes Against Humanity Initiative” is about an initiative launched by lecturer Leila Nadya Sadat, J.D, director of the Whitney R. Harris Law Institute  and the Harris World Law Institute in 2008.

Initially intended to “study the need for a comprehensive convention on the prevention and punishment of crimes against humanity, to analyze the necessary elements of such a convention, and to draft a proposed treaty,” the initiative was voted into the United Nations International Law Commission and, as of July 2014, became part of its active agenda, according to  press release.

The initiative’s objective, Sadat stated, is to “convince the international community that the elaboration of a comprehensive international instrument on crimes against humanity is both urgently required and eminently feasible.”

Visiting History and Government professor and associate Marguerite R. Roy, J.D. strongly supports the initiative.

Roy, who invited Sadat to speak, not only believes the initiative is tied to her International Organizations  and Global Issues classes, it connects with entire communities.

“Crimes Against Humanity Initiative has to do with both of those classes, really, because what you’re looking at is, we have states working through international organizations and we also have, in global issues, a lot of conflicts going on around the world. This involves crimes against humanity in many cases, so what we want to be able to do is bring attention to such an initiative and then to let people know about it on the ground floor to let them know that this initiative is actually happening, why this initiative is necessary, and then to make them more aware of what is going on in international law, what’s going on in the greater world.”

Roy believes it is crucial to encourage understanding on a global level because the world is becoming more connected.

“In becoming more and more global,” Roy said. “We need to become global thinkers and global acters as well.  We can’t just be satisfied with knowing what’s going on in our community. We have to know how that community will be impacted by other communities – both within our country as well as globally. After 9/11, we realized what happens in other parts of the world does impact us. You can look at that as ‘Okay, what relation does this have to anything else going on in the world?’ Look at the threat of ISIS. Do you think that that’s not going to impact us? Yes, it does.”

According to Roy, global issues impact Americans because the United States is a global super power.

“We are involved in a lot of the conflicts around the world, so there is this thing called ‘blowback’ where there will be repercussions for our presence in places, whether we like to hear that or not. So, after 9/11, I think that people can’t keep their eyes closed because they realize terrorism can come on American soil, that it has a number of times. Look at the Boston Marathon, what happened there as well. So we can’t keep our eyes closed, and we have to come to a greater understanding of what’s going on and make our decision makers – our government officials – responsible as well. They have to make responsible decisions and responsible choices about what we do as a country, because it does impact us,” said Roy.

The lecture, which is one of many events held in conjunction with Sadat’s work and the university’s 90th anniversary celebration, will be held on Monday, Sept.15 at 6:30 p.m. in the McGowan Room of the Mary Kintz Bevevino Library. It is free and open to the public. The event is co-sponsored by the College of Arts and Sciences, and Government, Law and National Security.

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