BUFFALO, N.Y. -- Irene Zubaida Khan, secretary general of
Amnesty International, will deliver the University at Buffalo Law
School's Mitchell Lecture at 3:30 p.m. on Oct. 25 in 106 O'Brian
Hall on the UB North (Amherst) Campus.
The first woman, Asian and Muslim to serve as secretary general
of Amnesty International, Khan will discuss "The Rule of Law and
the Politics of Fear: Human Rights in the 21st Century." Her talk
is free and open to the public.
Khan will address violence against women as a human-rights
violation, the genocide in Darfur and human-rights implications of
the war on terror. She also will address reforms she made at
Amnesty International to make the organization more inclusive,
universal and responsive to world events. For more information
about the lecture, go to http://www.law.buffalo.edu/mitchell.
"The Law School is excited to host this path-breaking world
leader," said Dean Nils Olsen. "This is an historic time in the
human-rights movement as new voices add additional perspectives,
goals and ideas to the field. Amnesty International, one of the
largest and most important human-rights organizations in the world,
is fortunate to have Irene Khan at its helm."
Khan's visit to UB is at the invitation of SUNY Distinguished
Professor of Law Makau Mutua, an internationally renowned advocate
for human rights and director of UB's Human Rights Center. Khan
consulted with Mutua as she initiated internal reforms that
broadened Amnesty International's focus on human-rights abuses in
southern hemisphere countries.
"Ms. Khan's reforms have opened a new window into Amnesty
International and have made it a more legitimate organization
across the world, especially in the global south," said Mutua, who
is completing a book on human rights NGOs in East Africa. "We are
honored to be graced by this human-rights advocate from the world's
premier human-rights organization."
In addition to her formal lecture, Khan will speak to UB law
students enrolled in Mutua's course on human rights and in a course
on domestic-violence law taught by UB clinical law professor
Suzanne Tomkins. Khan also will meet with UB Provost Satish K.
Tripathi and Professor Stephen Dunnett, UB vice provost for
international programs, among others.
Khan joined Amnesty International as the organization's seventh
secretary general in August 2001. She took up the leadership of
Amnesty International in its 40th anniversary year as the
organization began a process of change and renewal to address the
complex nature of contemporary human-rights violations, and
confronted challenging developments in the wake of the Sept. 11,
Khan has broadened the work of Amnesty International in areas of
economic, social and cultural rights. She also has focused on the
issue of women's human rights and violence against women.
In recent remarks, Khan cited the power of individual activism
in the struggle for human dignity.
"The need for individual activism has never been greater at a
time when fear and failed leadership threaten peace and human
"A new agenda is in the making in which the rules are being
rewritten for the benefit of the powerful and the privileged, while
the real sources of insecurity -- such as poverty, violence,
discrimination and HIV/AIDS, which affect the lives of many more --
go unaddressed," she said.
Prior to joining Amnesty International, Khan worked for the
United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees for 21 years, serving
in many different parts of the world, including as deputy director
in the Department of International Protection, chief of mission in
India, senior legal advisor for Asia and senior executive officer
to the High Commissioner.
The UB Law School's Mitchell Lecture series was endowed in 1950
by a gift from Lavinia A. Mitchell in memory of her husband James
McCormick Mitchell, an 1897 graduate of the UB Law School.