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University of Iowa News Release

Sept. 14, 2006

UICHR Launches Human Rights Reading Group Sept. 20

The UI Center for Human Rights (UICHR) will launch its fall Human Rights Reading Group Wednesday, Sept. 20, with the first of three sessions. The first session will focus on the impact of a recent Supreme Court decision invalidating the use of proposed military commissions to try detainees at Guantanamo Bay. All of the sessions will be held from 4:30 to 6 p.m. Wednesdays in the International Programs Commons (Room 1117) at the University Capitol Centre.

The sessions are open to all UI faculty, students, staff and members of the public. Each session will address a different human rights topic and provide a forum for study and respectful discussion of that topic and related issues. Readings for each session may be found in advance of the session at http://www.uichr.org (click on "Education" menu option).

The following is the schedule with a synopsis of each session topic:

--Sept. 20: Hamdan v. Rumsfeld: The Death of Military Tribunals?

Convener: Adrien Wing, UI Professor of Law. Readings for this session can be found at http://www.hamdanvrumsfeld.com.

In June 2006, the U.S. Supreme Court issued a ruling that is considered globally to have been a great victory for international human rights and a serious defeat for Bush administration policy. The June ruling in Hamdan v. Rumsfeld invalidated the military commissions that the Bush Administration had created to handle Guantanamo Bay and other detainees. The Supreme Court held that neither Congress nor the Geneva Conventions regulating armed conflict authorized the commissions. The session reading will include excerpts from the decision, scholarly commentary and proposals possibly being considered by Congress in response to the decision. The Reading Group also may discuss the ways a proposal might be drafted that would comply with the Supreme Court's decision.

--Oct. 18: Human Rights at UI: Reports & Recommendations of the Diversity Task Forces. Convener: Andrew Willard, International Programs.

Although the domain of the UI human rights program is global, the ways in which nations, states, and local communities interpret, apply, and develop expectations about what is permissible conduct -- i.e. conduct that is compatible with international human rights norms -- vary greatly around the planet. The University of Iowa, as a distinctive community, has recently addressed human rights concerns fundamental to the life of this campus. In just the first four months of this year, three reports were issued that dealt with subjects that are not only important on campus, but of interest worldwide.  These reports are Sexual Harassment and Unwelcomed Behavior (issued Jan. 23, 2006), the Diversity Action Committee Report (issued in March 2006), and the Gender Equity Task Force Report (issued May 1, 2006). In this session of the reading group, we will read and discuss these reports, with an emphasis on relating each report's recommendations to the international human rights program.

--Nov. 15: Considering Ken Cmiel's Human Rights Idea. Convener: Shelton Stromquist, History.

The late Ken Cmiel, formerly Director of the UICHR and Professor in the Department of History, was working on a new book at the time of his tragic death in February 2006.  He saw the debates surrounding the adoption of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights by the United Nations in 1948 and the intellectual traditions that fed those debates as an absolutely vital opportunity to understand the historical context of late 20th century human rights concerns and the persisting points of contention and consensus in the global human rights community of our own time. Although the book was not completed, Professor Cmiel had published several important essays that lit the intellectual paths he was following. We will read and discuss three of those essays.

For more information, please visit the UICHR website (www.uichr.org) or contact Liz Crooks at (319) 335-3900 or uichr@uiowa.edu.

Individuals with disabilities are encouraged to attend all University of Iowa sponsored events. If you are a person with a disability who requires an accommodation in order to participate in this program, please contact the University of Iowa Center for Human Rights at (319) 335-3900 or email uichr@uiowa.edu.

Founded in 1999, the UICHR is a direct outgrowth of Global Focus: Human Rights '98, the yearlong UI commemoration of the 50th anniversary of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights of Dec. 10, 1948. Initiated by a multidisciplinary group of faculty, the center's mission is to support the promotion and protection of human rights at home and abroad by providing leadership in human rights research, education, and public service to the UI, its surrounding community, the state of Iowa, and beyond.

The UICHR is affiliated with UI International Programs, which enables University of Iowa students, faculty, staff and the public to learn from and about the world.  Its offices, degree programs and events provide life-changing opportunities on campus and abroad, heighten intellectual and cultural diversity, and give all University constituents access to vital international knowledge.  For more information, visit http://intl-programs.uiowa.edu/ or call 319-353-2700.  International Programs is part of the Office of the Provost.

STORY SOURCE: University of Iowa News Services, 300 Plaza Centre One, Suite 371, Iowa City, Iowa 52242-2500.

CONTACTS: Media: Lois Gray, 319-335-2026,  lois-gray@uiowa.edu; Program: Amy Weismann or Liz Crooks, 319-335-3900; Writer: Ryan Wise

OTHER INFORMATION: http://www.uichr.org/

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