April 23, 2010

International elections expert to speak at SIUC

by Pete Rosenbery

CARBONDALE, Ill. -- An elections management specialist with the International Foundation for Electoral Systems will present a lecture next week at Southern Illinois University Carbondale.

Sophie Lagueny, who leads the organization’s efforts in Haiti, will present the 2010 SIU School of Law Hiram H. Lesar Distinguished Lecture at 5 p.m., Thursday, April 29, in the law school auditorium. Lagueny, (pronounced La-Goon-ee) is the organization’s Chief of Party, Haiti, serving as the in-country technical adviser to the country’s Provisional Electoral Council on all issues relating to preparing, organizing and coordinating the electoral process, according to her biography.

Lagueny will present “Reporting from the Ground Level in Haiti.” The lecture is free and open to the public.

Media Advisory

Reporters, photographers and camera crews are welcome to cover the lecture. Lagueny will be free to speak with the media at 4:30 p.m., prior to the lecture. To make arrangements for interviews or for more information on the lecture, contact Alicia Ruiz, the law school’s director of communications and outreach, at 618/453-8700.

Interim Dean Frank G. Houdek said the law school is pleased Lagueny will present the lecture.

Lagueny “will speak about her role in advising the Haiti Provision Electoral Council, as well as provide a first-hand account of living in Haiti, both before and after the devastating earthquake which struck the island republic in January.”

Lagueny’s experience includes nearly 20 years in a variety of assignments in locations including Palestine, Chad, Northern Bosnia and Herzegovina, Belgium, Bangladesh, Angola, Mozambique, Cambodia and France. Her assignments have come through organizations including the European Commission, The Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe (OSCE), United States Agency for International Development (USAID) and the United Nations.

With Lagueny’s “long experience in working on electoral management issues in nearly 20 different assignments … she is imminently qualified to speak about the pursuit of the rule of law in Haiti,” Houdek said.

“But her personal account of the country which has been in the news recently as much for its tragic earthquake and its aftermath as for its election troubles should be equally fascinating and timely,” Houdek said.

Cindy Galway Buys, an associate professor with the SIU School of Law and director of the school‘s International Law Program, said Lagueny‘s presentation is timely, and will provide two perspectives.

Lagueny will be able to discuss some of the issues and problems with Haiti’s government and democracy. She will also provide perspective on Haiti since the earthquake, and “give us a sense of what it was like to go through the earthquake and how the country is or is not recovering,” Buys said.

Buys notes that Haiti is the poorest country in the western hemisphere and needs more assistance than any other nation.

The Lesar Distinguished Lecture provides an opportunity to bring speakers “who can share these unique perspectives,” she said.

Lagueny earned a master’s degree in public affairs from the University of North Carolina and a master’s degree in business administration from the University of Kansas. She also studied International and European Public Law in Montpellier, France, according to her biography.

This is the 18th Lesar Distinguished Lecture dating back to 1983. Recent lecturers included attorney Christopher Nugent, known for his pro bono work helping Iraqi refugees; Eleanor Holmes Norton, congresswoman for the District of Columbia; Hans Blix, chairman of the International Commission on Weapons of Mass Destruction; U.S. Court of Appeals Fifth Circuit Judge Priscilla R. Owen; attorney Roger Cossack, who discussed the media’s role in high-profile cases; and Cheryl Brown Henderson and John A. Stokes, two key figures in the landmark 1954 U.S. Supreme Court case that ended segregation in the nation’s public schools.