Former ICJ Judge, Human Rights Advocate, Auschwitz Survivor to Address Law Graduates

Posted on May 30, 2012

The Honorable Thomas Buergenthal, a former judge of the International Court of Justice (ICJ), will deliver the keynote address at the 99th Annual School of Law Commencement Ceremony on Sunday, June 3, at the A.J. Palumbo Center.

Nearly 200 graduates will receive their juris doctor degrees at the ceremony.

Buergenthal spent the first 11 years of his life in various German concentration camps and is one of the youngest survivors of the Auschwitz and Sachsenhausen camps. He moved to the United States when he was 17.

Considered one of the leading international human rights experts, Buergenthal was elected in 2000 as a judge to the ICJ in The Hague, The Netherlands, and served that court for 10 years. In addition, he was a judge of the Inter-American Court of Human Rights from 1979-1991, serving as president from 1989-1994. Buergenthal is a member of the Ethics Commission of the International Olympic Committee; served as president of the Administrative Tribunal of the Inter-American Development Bank; and was a member of the UN Human Rights Committee and the UN Truth Commission for El Salvador.

“Judge Buergenthal is a distinguished jurist, a leading voice on international human rights and a respected figure around the globe,” said Law School Dean Ken Gormley. “I’m proud that our graduating students selected him to serve as their commencement speaker and honored that he accepted the invitation.”

Buergenthal has written and co-authored more than a dozen books, including A Lucky Child: A Memoir of Surviving Auschwitz as a Young Boy. He serves on numerous editorial boards for the Human Rights Law Journal, the American Journal of International Law and other legal journals.

As an academic, Buergenthal has taught at the Washington College of Law at American University, the University of Texas and Emory University, where he directed the Human Rights Program of the Carter Center, and other institutions. He currently serves as the Lobingier Professor of Comparative Law and Jurisprudence at George Washington University Law School.

A commencement Mass will be held at 9 a.m. in the Chapel. Both the Mass and the Commencement ceremony will be broadcast live via webcast.

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