Under the auspices of American University’s School of International Service (SIS) and the Center for Hemispheric Defense Studies (CHDS) a conference on human rights and democracy issues was held at the AU campus on July 22. The event, a brainstorming session for a collaborative effort between SIS and CHDS, focused on gathering insights and perspectives from the attendees on the past and current issues of human rights and democracy in the Americas and the lessons learned both for the Americas and from the Americas for the rest of the world.
SIS Dean Louis Goodman and CHDS Director Richard D. Downie kicked off the all-day session, which included presentations by AU Professor of International Relations Robert Pastor; William LeoGrande, AU dean of the School of Public Affairs; human rights attorney Steven M. Schneebaum; Antonio Raimondo, chief of the human rights and international law division of the Western Hemisphere Institute for Security Cooperation (WHINSEC); Anne Ehrsam-Holland, director of the U.S. Defense Institute of International Legal Studies (DIILS), and Martin Edwin Andersen, CHDS chief of strategic communications and assistant professor of national security affairs. The group also included representatives of the Washington Office on Latin America (WOLA), the International Foundation for Electoral Systems (IFES), and NORTHCOM.
As the deliberations evolved there was a consensus that the “lessons learned from the Americas” was relevant to a much larger audience, including the Middle East and Africa. “We look forward to continuing to work with Dr. Goodman and the very interesting group of people who have chosen to join us in this collaborative project,” said Ken LaPlante, CHDS deputy director and co-coordinator of the effort with American University. “It is clear that the progress made in human rights and democracy in Latin America, and the role played during that time by the United States, are important experiences to share in other regions of the world.”