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University of Iowa News Release


March 26, 2007

UI Center For Human Rights Announces Essay Competition Winners

Two University of Iowa students have been named winners of the third annual Burns H. Weston International Human Rights Essay Prize Competition, sponsored by the University of Iowa Center for Human Rights (UICHR).

The competition, which was open for the first time this year to students at all three of the state's public universities, is intended to promote and recognize student scholarship on human rights issues. To be eligible, student submissions are required to focus on current events or history, public policy, law or the arts and humanities. A faculty committee reviewed each qualifying essay for writing skill, critical analysis and the contribution to human rights scholarship, among other factors.

Julia LaBua, a UI history major in the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences, of West Branch, Iowa, won $750 in the undergraduate category for her essay "Outside the Public Eye: How the Carter Administration Used 'Quiet Diplomacy' to Impact Human Rights in Argentina."

LaBua said her research into declassified government documents gave her an impression very much at odds with the one she formed after reading mainstream media reports of the time.

"It was fascinating to read in these documents the candid comments by U.S. officials regarding their very active efforts on behalf of human rights in Argentina," she said.

Stacey Meyer, a second-year law student in the UI College of Law, of Burleson, Texas, won $1,000 in the graduate category for her essay "Conflict of National Identity with Minority Religious Rights in Russia and France: A Conundrum for the European Court of Human Rights."

Meyer examined the increasing cooperation between the Russian government and the Orthodox Church and how the European Court of Human Rights (ECHR) would view the status of minority religious groups in Russia, which as a signatory to the Council of Europe, is bound by ECHR judgment.

"I added a comparative element by examining religious rights issues in France, also a member of the Council of Europe, and how that nation has recently struggled with minority religious rights due to its growing Muslim population," Meyer said.

The essay competition is named in honor of the lifetime work of Weston, a professor emeritus in the UI College of Law and UICHR senior scholar and interim director.

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 part of 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 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: Joe Nugent, 319-335-2026,; Program: Amy Weismann, 319-335-3900; Writer: Joe Nugent.