March 17, 2004

Human rights expert to deliver Lesar lecture

by Pete Rosenbery

CARBONDALE, Ill. - An internationally acclaimed human rights and public international law scholar will deliver the annual Hiram H. Lesar Distinguished Lecture later this month.

Tiyanjana Maluwa will deliver the 12th distinguished lecture in the series at 5 p.m. Tuesday, March 30, in the law school auditorium. The lecture is free and open to the public. Maluwa's lecture is "Memory, Truth and the Quest for Justice in Post-Conflict Societies." The lecture focuses on the challenges of establishing justice, historical reckoning and reconciliation in post-conflict societies, said Maluwa. 

"It will be argued that reconciliation is both a goal and a process," he said. "As a process, reconciliation must include the key instruments of justice, truth, healing and reparation, and provide the society a means for moving from a divided past to a shared future."

Maluwa is an excellent speaker, said law school Dean Peter C. Alexander .

In Africa, said Alexander, there must be reconciliation between the criminal defendant and the victim or the victim's family before a person "is really free from the criminal justice system."

Although U.S. courts provide a reconciliation process through victim-impact statements, Maluwa talks about a "systemwide belief that reconciliation must be part of the criminal justice process in order for a society to work," said Alexander.

Post-conflict reconciliation has been pursued in a number of countries, including African countries such as South Africa and Sierra Leone, principally through truth commissions, said Maluwa.

"A central argument of the lecture is the view that a core objective of truth commissions, perhaps their most important contribution, is their ability to engage the affected societies and provide a forum for all - perpetrators of human rights violations and victims of these violations - to be heard as an important aspect of the quest for reconstruction of societies based on democracy, justice, and sustainable human rights protection," said Maluwa.

Maluwa "will challenge us to think about criminal justice in new ways," said Alexander.

"And the thing that is most exciting to me is when we compare U.S. law to foreign law, it is very often compared to European law or Asian law. We rarely have direct comparisons to African criminal justice or African law, in general, and this will be exciting to our students and the general public."

Maluwa joined the faculty as law professor at the The Dickinson School of Law at Penn State University last fall. For the two years prior to that, he was the legal adviser to Mary Robinson, the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights in Geneva, Switzerland.

In 1995, Maluwa was asked by the United Nations to serve as the Special Rapporteur for Human Rights in Nigeria after the execution of famed poet-activist Ken Saro Wiwa.

Maluwa is the author or editor of five books and more than 50 scholarly articles.

The Hiram H. Lesar Lecture Series was established in 1992 to honor the founding dean of the SIUC law school.

Creating citizen-leaders with global perspectives is among the goals of Southern@150, the blueprint for the development of the University by the time it celebrates its 150th anniversary in 2019.