On Thursday, April 18, 2013, José Zalaquett, Professor of Human Rights Law, University of Chile, delivered the Inaugural CCHR Lewers Lecture, in honor of Fr. William Lewers. The title of Prof. Zalaquett’s talk was “The Moral and Political Reconstruction of Broken Societies: 30 years of Transitional Justice Worldwide.”
Prof. Zalaquett was introduced by University President Fr. John Jenkins.
In his native Chile, from 1973-1975, Prof. Zalaquett organized and headed the Legal Aid Department of the ecumenical “Comité de Cooperación Para la Paz en Chile” (later known as “Vicaría de la Solidaridad”). The department provided legal aid to thousands of political prisoners in Chile following the September 1973 coup d’état. Exiled by the military government, he served various leadership positions with Amnesty International over two decades, including Deputy Secretary General and Chair of its International Standing Committee.
Prof. Zalaquett’s experience with other international human rights organizations includes serving as a member of the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights of the OAS, acting as President of that body from 2003-2004. He has participated in truth commissions and advised governments on issues of justice and reconciliation in Argentina, El Salvador, Peru, Yugoslavia, and Uganda, among many others. In the academic sphere, he teaches at universities in Chile and around the world.
Fr. William Lewers, C.S.C., who passed in 1997 at Holy Cross House, was a member of the Notre Dame board of trustees in addition to being director of The Center for Civil & Human Rights from 1985 to 1997.
Photos from the evening’s event may be found here.