CONTACT: STEPHEN PRADARELLI
100 Old Public Library
Iowa City IA 52242
(319) 384-0007; fax (319) 384-0024
Release: April 21, 2000
UN human rights expert Shashi Tharoor to speak April
IOWA CITY, Iowa -- Shashi Tharoor, an international
human rights expert and executive assistant to United Nations Secretary General
Kofi Annan, will give a public lecture at 7:15 p.m. Wednesday, April 26 in
106 Gilmore Hall on the University of Iowa campus.
Tharoor's lecture will focus on the question, "Are
human rights universal?" The event, which is free and open to the public,
is sponsored by the Iowa City Human Rights Commission, the University of Iowa
School of Religion, South Asian Studies Program, College of Law, College of
Education and the UI Center for Human Rights.
Earlier in the day, Tharoor will speak to and meet
with students, faculty and staff in the College of Education. On Thursday,
April 27, he will visit with select classes and members of the UI community.
The visit was organized by Krishna Das, international
liaison in the UI Office of International Education. Das said Tharoor's visit
presents a rare opportunity for the Iowa City community to hear one of the
world's leading experts explain human rights from a global perspective.
"The concept of human rights seems to be extremely
elusive," Das said. "Even after working in this area I am still confused as
to what it actually means. Is human rights truly what we in the western world
advocate or is it different? Is it truly universal? Shashi's visit and lecture,
I believe, may enlighten us and make us probe a little deeper into this concept."
Born in London in 1956, Tharoor was educated in Bombay,
Calcutta, Delhi (where he received a bachelor's degree in history at St. Stephen's
College), and the United States. He received his Ph.D. at the age of 22 from
the Fletcher School at Tufts University.
Since 1978, he has worked for the United Nations,
serving with the UN High Commissioner for Refugees, whose Singapore office
he headed during the "boat people" crisis. Since October 1989, he has been
a senior official at UN headquarters in New York, where, until late1996, he
was responsible for peacekeeping operations in the former Yugoslavia. In January
1997, he was appointed executive assistant to UN Secretary General Kofi Annan.
Tharoor is the author of numerous articles, short
stories and commentaries in Indian and Western publications, and the winner
of several journalism and literary awards, including a Commonwealth Writers'
Tharoor's visit is being funded by the UI provost's
office with Ida Beam funds. Idea Beam, a native of Vinton, willed her farm
to the UI Foundation in 1977. Her only university connection was a relative
who graduated from the College of Medicine. With proceeds from the sale of
the farm, the UI established a fund to bring top scholars in a variety of
disciplines to the university for lectures and discussions.
For more information, e-mail Krishna Das, email@example.com,
or call (319) 335-6289.