This article is from the archives of the UB Reporter.

Welch to advise Scholar Rescue Fund

  • Claude Welch
Published: June 14, 2010

A UB faculty member is using his expertise in human rights to help scholars escape persecution in their homelands and continue their academic work in a safe environment.

Claude Welch, SUNY Distinguished Service Professor in the Department of Political Science, has been named an advisor to the International Institute of Education’s Scholar Rescue Fund.

The Scholar Rescue Fund was established to provide fellowships for established scholars “whose lives and work are threatened in their home countries.” The fellowships allow researchers and senior academics to relocate temporarily to safe environments at universities and colleges around the world so that they can continue their academic work.

The volunteer advisors assist the IIE staff and selection committee in determining individual cases. Welch recently was named the consultant for Africa, based on his knowledge of the human rights situations on that continent.

“Your exemplary knowledge of global human rights and country-specific political issues will be a great benefit to our process of selecting the most worthy, threatened scholars to receive the SRF fellowship and assistance,” Jim Miller III, executive director of the Scholar Rescue Fund, said in a letter naming Welch to the position.

Since its founding in 2002, the SRF has received more than 3,000 inquiries from persecuted academics around the world and has assisted more than 350 individuals from 43 countries across all academic disciplines, placing them in academic positions in more than 200 institutions in 35 countries.

A Sri Lankan geographer currently is at UB under the fund’s auspices.

Welch says he accepted the appointment “with very mixed emotion.” The previous advisor for Africa, Allison Des Forges, an internationally known human rights advocate and one of the world’s leading experts on Rwanda,  was killed in the 2009 crash of a Continental Connection Flight in Clarence Center. Des Forges had been a friend and colleague of Welch’s for more than 50 years: The two first met in a freshman German class at Harvard University.

Welch is one of the most respected authorities in the world in the area of human rights and human rights organizations—particularly in Africa—and on the political role of armed forces. He has published 14 books, chapters in more than 35 other books and more than 40 articles in academic journals. His most recent book, “Economic Rights in Canada and the United States” (2006, University of Pennsylvania Press), was recognized as one of the “notable contributions” to the field of human rights scholarship by the U.S. Human Rights Network.

He is working on his next book, “Protecting Human Rights Globally: Roles and Strategies of International NGOs.”

Welch was a longtime board member of Human Rights Watch/Africa, an international human rights monitoring group, and has helped conduct investigations and reports that have improved human rights in Africa. He's also been a frequent consultant for U.S. government agencies, such as the African Center for Strategic Studies and the U.S. Army and Staff College, in addition to such private groups as the MacArthur Foundation and the Asia Foundation on democratization, human rights and civil-military relations.