GUC Keynote World Crimes 1

International Guest Speakers Hit the Keynote on Global Issues

The 11th Annual Global Understanding Convention’s keynote address took place in Wilson Hall on Tuesday, April 3. The speech focused on this year’s theme of Freedom, Sustainability and Security: International Criminal Law and Human Rights.

The event attracted over 400 attendees, including faculty, students and administrators. As the audience was being seated, junior Meredith Calcagno and sophomore Michael Rosas performed a musical prelude along with Laura DuBois, a professor in the Music and Theatre Department.

The keynote speech welcomed two speakers, Raymond Brown and Wanda Akin, who are the co-founders of the International Justice Project. The two speakers are also are married to each other.

During their keynote address, the speakers touched upon the current situation in Darfur, the implications caused by blood diamonds in Sierra Leone, the KONY movement, the work of the International Criminal Court (ICC) and the struggles that women face in war-torn regions of the world.

Their non-profit organization was established in 2004 with the purpose of providing support to victims of world crimes such as genocides, war crimes and crimes against humanity. The organization also conducts outreach and educated survivors, human rights advocates, activists and other organizations about the ICC, international criminal law, human rights and the current situation in Darfur, according to internationaljusticeproject. com.

Additionally, the project also runs the Health and Reparations Project (HARP) which provides medical support for the mental health of refugees and victims of crime in Darfur. “The number of Darfurian refugees in the United States is expected to increase significantly in the near future,” according to the organization’s website.

According to the University’s website, Brown has been a trial lawyer, teacher and legal journalist since 1974. He “has handled a wide variety of U.S. criminal and civil matters representing individuals and corporations, and he has appeared in courts and conducted investigations throughout the U.S. and globe, including Kenya, El Salvador, Switzerland, the Bahamas, Uganda and Sierra Leone.”

Akin is currently an adjunct professor at Seton Hall University’s School of Law and has an independent practice in Newark, N.J. She has more than 29 years of experience as a trial lawyer in criminal defense in the U.S. and international courts. She also is qualified to represent the accused and the victims before the ICC, and is currently representing Darfurian victims in a case against President Omar al- Bashir of Sudan.

The speakers were suggested by Professor Don Moliver, Dean of the Leon Hess Business School, according Dr. Nancy Mezey, the Director of the Institute for Global Understanding. “He knew of the speakers and suggested that we consider inviting them to speak,” Mezey said. “The GUC committee looked at the work they were doing and thought that their focus and areas of expertise would be a very good fit for the convention this year.”

GUC Keynote World Crimes 2The topic of the keynote speech was a collaborative effort between the speakers and the GUC committee members. “Given the theme of the convention and the areas of expertise of the speakers, the GUC committee proposed the topic to the speakers,” Mezey said. “The speakers then made a few suggestions on how to connect the topic more closely with their focus on criminal law, and we all agreed on the final title and topic.”

Mezey said that the speech examined many issues with which students might not have been previously familiar. “The presentation was just what we hoped it would be: informative, educational, insightful and inspiring,” she continued. “My only regret is that we did not have more time. Because of their generosity of spirit and enthusiasm for their work, the speakers stayed nearly an hour after the official end of the talk to answer questions from the audience.”

“As impressed as we were with the speakers, I think the speakers were equally impressed by the Monmouth University audience,” Mezey added. “We are hoping to continue to work with Mr. Brown and Mrs. Akin through their non-profit organization.”

Mezey mentioned the opportunity that can come to students from their continued work with the organization. “We hope that such opportunities will open the door for our students to intern through IJP and help IJP further their mission,” she said.

Marina Vujnovic, communication professor and a member of the planning committee for the convention, said that the feedback from the keynote speech has been positive. “Most people were really impressed with what they’ve heard,” Vujnovic commented. “Some people mentioned that it was difficult to grasp the scope of their work because of the time limitation.”

She suggested that there be an opportunity for them to come and speak at the University again. “The most impressive thing for me was their dedication to helping victims of the crimes against humanity and showing us how it is possible to make a difference in the world through any profession, if there is enough dedication and will,” Vujnovic added.

If any student is interested in getting involved with the institute or convention, call 732-923- 4666 or e-mail igu@monmouth. edu. Students also can visit the Facebook page at www.facebook. com/mu.igu and follow on Twitter at @IGUatMU.