To mark the 60th anniversary of the ratification of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights (UDHR), Facing History and Ourselves and Harvard Law School are convening some of the world’s leading human rights scholars, practitioners, and educators for an international conference entitled, “Hope, Critique and Possibility: Universal Rights in Societies of Difference” on November 20th at Harvard Law School in Cambridge, Massachusetts.

The conference is co-chaired by Martha Minow, Jeremiah Smith, Jr. Professor at HLS, and Margot Stern Strom, Executive Director of Facing History and Ourselves. It is held in partnership with the Harvard University Committee on Human Rights Studies and will take place at Harvard Law School’s Pound Hall.

Said Minow: “The anniversary of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights gives us an occasion not only to celebrate the hopes and hard work of its drafters but also to engage in detailed analyses of precisely how it is possible to promote, as Article 26 calls for the ‘full development of the human personality,’ strengthen ‘respect for human rights and fundamental freedoms,’ and ‘promotes understanding, tolerance, and friendship among all nations, racial or religious groups’ in real classrooms in Kansas City, in London, Marseilles, and in Hamburg.”

“As the UDHR became recognized, Eleanor Roosevelt spoke of the small places where human rights begin – places ‘so small that they cannot be seen on any map of the world.’ In the 21st century, those small places have to include classrooms where teachers and students together address the complex issues relating to human rights,” said Strom. “It is our hope that in our classrooms, this next generation will learn to develop the empathy, the world view, and the skills to prevent further mass violence and genocide.”

Conference participants will examine critiques and possibilities that remain in pursuing universal rights in schools and societies where refugee and immigrant populations, long-standing domestic divides, and periodic global disasters challenge nation-states and the world as a whole.

Panelists include:

Sir Keith Ajegbo, Former Head Teacher of Deptford Green School, Home Office Advisor in the United Kingdom
Jacqueline Bhabha, Executive Director of the Harvard University Committee on Human Rights, John F. Kennedy School of Government, Harvard University
Noah Feldman, Professor of Law, Harvard Law School
Mary Ann Glendon, Learned Hand Professor of Law at HLS and U.S. Ambassador to the Holy See
Samantha Power ’99, Anna Lindh Professor of Practice of Global Leadership and Public Policy, John F. Kennedy School of Government, Harvard University
John Sexton, President of New York University