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Human Rights: some old truths and necessary new directions

Speaker: Professor Manfred Nowak, UN Special Rapporteur on Torture
Chair: Dr Margot Salomon, Centre for the Study of Human Rights
Thursday 7 December 2006


In this public lecture, marking International Human Rights Day, the UN Special Rapporteur on Torture, Manfred Nowak, subjects the state of contemporary human rights and its future prospects to critical scrutiny. Among the topics he will address are the absolute prohibition of torture in the fight against terrorism; the effectiveness (or otherwise) of the new UN Human Rights Council; and the question of whether there is a need for a World Court of Human Rights. One of the most experienced experts working in the field of human rights, Professor Nowak's vision for the subject is bound to be a challenging one, for advocates as well as adversaries of human rights.

Professor Manfred Nowak has been UN Special Rapporteur on Torture and other Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment since 2004. His mandate consists of examining, monitoring, advising and publicly reporting on the situation of torture worldwide. Among other activities, Professor Nowak conducted fact-finding missions to Georgia, Mongolia, Nepal, China, Jordan, and lately to the Russian Federation including the northern Caucasus. He also co-authored the UN-Report on the situation of detainees at Guantánamo Bay.

As UN expert on Disappearances, Professor Nowak acted as advisor to the Working Group of the UN Commission on Human Rights drafting a Convention on Disappearances.

From 1996 to 2003 he worked as a judge at the Human Rights Chamber for Bosnia-Herzegovina in Sarajevo. Prior to that, he acted as the UN expert in charge of the special process on missing persons in the Former Yugoslavia where he started a process of identification of missing persons through exhumation of mortal remains.

Professor Nowak is Co-Director of the Ludwig Boltzmann Institute of Human Rights at the University of Vienna and since 2000 the Chairperson of the European Master's Degree in Human Rights and Democratization (E.MA) in Venice.