The WSD HANDA Center for Human Rights and International Justice officially launched its programming at Stanford University on Wednesday with its inaugural lecture on international justice featuring Ambassador David Scheffer.
Handa Center Director David Cohen opened the evening by introducing attendees to the Handa Center’s work and announcing the upcoming inaugural lecture on human rights with former UN High Commissions for Human Rights Navi Pillay on May 5.
“We are so pleased to have found a new home for our work within this prestigious university’s Stanford Global Studies (SGS) division,” Cohen remarked in advance of Wednesday's lecture. “We are looking forward to engaging the student body with our mission to promote the rule of law, accountability, and human rights around the world, particularly in societies grappling with difficult legacies of violent conflict.”
Addressing an audience of about 70 Stanford faculty, staff, undergraduate and graduate students, visiting scholars and community members, Scheffer, the UN Secretary-General’s Special Expert on UN Assistance to the Khmer Rouge Trials, reviewed the jurisprudence and operation of the Extraordinary Chambers in the Courts of Cambodia (ECCC) where surviving senior leaders of the Khmer Rouge and those most responsible for the atrocity crimes of the Pol Pot regime are being prosecuted.
Attendees of note included Dean of Humanities & Sciences Richard Saller, SGS Director Norman Naimark, Handa Center Senior Fellow Beth Van Schaack, CDDRL Director Larry Diamond, Center for Justice and Accountability (CJA) former Executive Directors Jerry Gray and Pamela Merchant, Executive Director of the Stanford Law School Human Rights Center Claret Vargas, and John Rough, who generously sponsored the lecture series.
As the tribunal marks a decade since its establishment, Scheffer highlighted the ways in which the court has had meaningful impacts on the future of both international and Cambodian justice – and will serve to influence future international and hybrid criminal tribunals.
“Both objectives are already happening, but the impact of the Extraordinary Chambers on justice at home and abroad also will be the ‘long game,’” noted Scheffer, a Northwestern University School of Law Professor and the first U.S. Ambassador at Large for War Crimes Issues. “I am confident that the United Nations and the donor governments will remain dedicated to this pursuit of justice for millions of Cambodian victims until the mandate of the Extraordinary Chambers is completed.”
Select student attendees were invited to a private breakfast with Scheffer the following morning to continue the conversation on international justice and delve into the ambassador’s career trajectory.
“We aim to engage the Stanford student population at all levels of our work, from participating in this sort of intimate conversation with practitioners to interning as trial monitors at the Khmer Rouge tribunal itself,” said Handa Center Associate Director Penelope Van Tuyl.
Undergraduate and graduate students are encouraged to apply for positions working on the Asian International Justice Initiative’s Khmer Rouge Tribunal Monitoring and Community Outreach Program, a project run in close cooperation with international and Cambodian non-governmental organizations working on post-conflict and victims’ rights issues related to the ECCC. The deadline is February 19.
Please visit the Handa Center's Facebook page for photos from the event.