Oct. 3 Talk by Journalist Jack Shenker Is among YIHR4 Highlights

Award-winning journalist Jack Shenker

A talk by award-winning British journalist Jack Shenker is among the highlights of the Year of International Human Rights 2011-12: Refugee & Migrant Rights. Shenker will speak at 7 p.m. Monday, Oct. 3, in Moore Auditorium.

A correspondent for The Guardian as well as magazines and other newspapers, Shenker has reported from Egypt, the Indian subcontinent, central Asia, Sudan, Gaza, and Sudan. His coverage of this year’s revolution in Egypt won him the Amnesty International Gaby Rado Prize for excellence in human rights journalism. Shenker is being co-sponsored by the College of Arts & Sciences, the Multicultural Center/International Student Affairs, and the School of Communications.

YIHR4 also is offering a variety of other activities and events designed to raise awareness of the world’s uprooted people. Thus far on the schedule are a free “5 Thursdays in September” film series, a talk by International Institute of St. Louis CEO and president Anna Crosslin (Nov. 21); a celebration of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights ratification (Dec. 8); a display of refugee photos (January); a dance recital by Webster students (March); and an Annual Human Rights Conference (April 19 & 20) in the University Center.

Pending events include talks the Mary T. Hall Seminar in collaboration with the United Nations Association; a retrospective on the fall of the Berlin Wall, co-sponsored with the Department of History, Politics and International Relations; volunteer opportunities with Webster Works Worldwide (Oct. 5); and a panel discussion by student refugees. Keep current with YIHR4 events by checking the YIHR pages of the Institute for Human Rights & Humanitarian Studies website.

The Complete Persepolis

Webster freshmen were introduced to YIHR4 with this year’s common reading, The Complete Persepolis. Marjane Satrapi’s graphic autobiography tells of her childhood in revolutionary Iran, her teenage years in Vienna, her subsequent return to her country, and her final emigration to France. (A free outdoor showing of the animated movie Persepolis takes place at 7:30 p.m. Tuesday, Sept. 13, at 3500 Hartford, a parking lot near South Grand Boulevard. The film is being co-sponsored by the Year of International Human Rights, Great Thinkers Seminars, and the South Grand Community Improvement District.)

Kelly-Kate Pease, professor of international relations and director of the Institute for Human Rights & Humanitarian Studies, the YIHR’s umbrella organization, said 2011 is an important anniversary for refugee rights.

“This theme was selected because 2011 marks the 60th anniversary of the 1951 Convention Relating to the Status of Refugees, a treaty that formalizes the rights of individuals fleeing persecution,” Pease said. “The 1951 Convention complements the work of the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR), the principal agency responsible for finding durable solutions to the plight of the world’s refugees.

“YIHR4 will also focus on the rights and the needs of individuals in refugee-like situations, such as those who are internally displaced or are fleeing generalized violence, civil war, extreme poverty, or natural disaster,” she added.

Boy & suitcase

“Estimates of the number of uprooted people around the world are staggering,” said David Carl Wilson, dean of the College of Arts & Sciences.  “We hope that by highlighting the plight of refugees and those in refugee-like situations, we will be able to raise awareness and be an advocate for those who have been displaced from their homes.

“We’re especially pleased to give our students opportunities to practice global citizenship through YIHR events and activities,” Wilson said. “What students experience through the Year of International Human Rights can easily chart their life courses—and someday they may make a difference in improving human rights standards around the world.”

The first Year of International Human Rights in AY2008-09 commemorated the 60th anniversary of the endorsement of the UN’s Universal Declaration of Human Rights. Subsequent YIHR themes have been the human right to food and water (2009-10) and women’s rights (2010-11).