Juan Mendez Joins Visiting Faculty at WCL

International human rights expert recently named Special Advisor on Crime Prevention at International Criminal Court


WASHINGTON, DC, August 7, 2009 – American University Washington College of Law is proud to welcome Juan E. Mendez, former president of the International Center for Transitional Justice, as a visiting faculty member for the 2009-2010 academic year. Mendez, an international law expert who has devoted his legal career to human rights advocacy and legal education, will teach Prevention of Genocide, a seminar on Advanced Human Rights, International Criminal Law, and Regional Approaches to Human Rights in the coming year at WCL.  Mendez was recently named the Special Advisor on Crime Prevention at the International Criminal Court.

“Juan Mendez’s dedication to the pursuit of human rights is unparalleled,” said Washington College of Law Dean Claudio Grossman. “We are thrilled to have him join our faculty and to develop even further WCL’s contributions to international law and human rights.”

Mendez has a long and distinguished record of human rights advocacy.  As a result of his involvement in representing political prisoners, the Argentinean military dictatorship arrested him in 1975 and subjected him to torture and administrative detention for a year and a half. During this time, Amnesty International adopted him as a "Prisoner of Conscience." Mendez was then expelled from Argentina, and went into exile in the United States.

He worked with Human Rights Watch for 15 years, concentrating his efforts on human rights issues in the western hemisphere and helping to build the organization into one of the most widely respected in the world.

In 1994, he became General Counsel of Human Rights Watch, with worldwide duties in support of the organization's mission, including responsibility for the organization's litigation and standard setting activities. From 1996 to 1999, Méndez was the executive director of the Inter‑American Institute of Human Rights in Costa Rica. Between October 1999 and May 2004 he was professor of law and director of the Center for Civil and Human Rights at the University of Notre Dame, Indiana.  Between 2000 and 2003 he was a member of the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights of the Organization of American States, and served as president in 2002.  Mendez was also Special Advisor to the Secretary-General (UN) on the Prevention of Genocide, 2004-2007.

Mendez has taught International Human Rights Law at Georgetown Law School and at the Johns Hopkins School of Advanced International Studies, and he teaches regularly at the Oxford Masters Program in International Human Rights Law in the United Kingdom. He is the recipient of several human rights awards, the most recent being the inaugural “Monsignor Oscar A. Romero Award for Leadership in Service to Human Rights,” by the University of Dayton in April 2000, and the “Jeanne and Joseph Sullivan Award” of the Heartland Alliance in May 2003.  More recent awards include a doctorate honoris causa by the University of Quebec at Montreal in 2007, and The Skoll Award for Social Entrepreneurship by Oxford University in 2009.

Mendez will join WCL’s distinguished group of faculty teaching international law subjects including Padideh Ala’i, Daniel Bradlow, Michael Carroll, Janie Chuang, Mary D. Fan, Anna Gelpern, Robert Goldman, Claudia Martin, Fernanda Nicola, Diane Orentlicher, Diego Rodriguez-Pinzon, Susana Sacouto, Paul Williams, and Rick Wilson.

# # #