NYU professor discusses Rwandan Genocide in Park Library Auditorium


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New York University Professor Jennifer Trahan presents a slideshow regarding how genocide has influenced international law at "From Rwanda to the Present: The Prosecution of Atrocity Crimes" on Apr. 7 in the Park Library Auditorium.

About 100 people gathered in the Park Library Auditorium on Friday to hear Jennifer Trahan discuss how the international response to the Rwandan Genocide has influenced international law.

Trahan, an internationally recognized expert on International Criminal Law and a professor at New York University’s Center for Global Affairs, emphasized the prosecution of atrocity crimes from Rwanda to present day.

The event began with the discussion of the Rwandan Genocide and ended spotlighting the current conflict in Syria. A question and answer session followed.

“The goals of this event are to allow students to interact with professors and have conversations about these topics,” said Hope May, a member of the committee hosting the event. “It is important to connect students with these stories that happened in the past and to also connect them to what is happening today.”

Trahan said people should care about atrocity crimes persecutions because it is a matter of our own humanity.

“If we see children being gassed in Syria, we should care," Trahan said. "We have a history in this country of mistreating Native Americans and African Americans, so issues of justice are not only ones that apply to other countries.”

The lecture was a part of The Dr. Harold Abel Endowed Lecture Series in the Study of Dictatorship, Democracy, and Genocide, which aims to bring distinguished scholars to campus to discuss the impact of worldwide genocide.

Abel was president of Central Michigan University from 1975-1985.

“After my father passed away, my mother decided to do something in my father’s honor,” said Matthew Abel, a member of the Dr. Harold Abel Lecture Series committee and a part of the donor family. “One of the things they always felt strongly about was human rights. With the help of a professor, we came to the decision to have a series regarding that.

“I’m pleased this lecture today focused on recent and current conflicts. Bringing light to this issue and furthering people’s knowledge on what’s going on in the world is the first step in ending some of this tragedy.”

The lecture took place after a flag raising ceremony at Warriner Hall. The raised peace flag marks the 23rd anniversary of the Rwandan Genocide.

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