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United Nations expert to visit University of St Andrews

Dr Gustavo GallónA United Nations expert on human rights will speak at the University of St Andrews on the crisis in Colombia.

Dr Gustavo Gallón, a lawyer who has represented victims of human rights violations before national and international courts, including within the United Nations System and the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights, has also held key roles within the UN.

He is currently the UN Human Rights Council’s Independent Expert on the Human Rights Situation in Haiti and was formerly the UN Human Rights Commission’s Special Representative for Equatorial Guinea.

His talk, entitled: “Human Rights in Crisis: the Case of Colombia” will take place next week (November 14) and has been organised with the University’s School of International Relations and sponsored by the School of Modern Languages; The Centre for the Study of Religion and Politics; the School of Divinity; the Centre for Amerindian, Latin American and Caribbean Studies; the Department of Social Anthropology; the Department of Film Studies and the School of Philosophical, Anthropological and Film Studies.

This will be the second event in the St Andrews Latin America Lecture Series – a cross-School initiative launched to promote Latin American Studies in St Andrews.

Dr Roddy Brett, Lecturer in the School of International Relations, said: “Dr Gustavo Gallón is one of the most prominent human rights lawyers in Latin America.

“His work has brought resounding impact in the field of human rights in Colombia, in particular in relation to paramilitary violence and trade union rights.

“His visit is of critical significance to the University of St Andrews and the region of Fife in general, in particular given that the Colombian government is, at present in the midst of negotiations with Latin America’s last active guerrilla organisation.”

Dr Gallón is Director and founder of the Colombian Commission of Jurists, the most important and internationally prominent human rights organisation in Colombia. He has a Doctorate in Political Sociology from the School of High Studies in Social Sciences in Paris.

He is Chairman of the Board of the Center for Justice and International Law (CEJIL), a member of the Board of the International Service for Human Rights and Honorary Member of the International Commission of Jurists.

Dr Gallón is Professor of Law at the National University of Colombia and has published a series of books on human rights in theory and practice. He has been Visiting Fellow at the Kellogg Institute, University of Notre Dame and is a columnist at El Espectador newspaper in Bogotá.

Colombia’s internal armed conflict continues to wage after more than four decades of violent conflict. More than 5 million Colombians have been internally displaced, and more than 100,000 continue to be displaced each year. Human rights defenders, community leaders, trade unionists, journalists, indigenous and Afro-Colombian leaders face death threats and other abuses from diverse armed groups. The peace process continues, with on-going dialogue between the Colombian government and guerrilla of FARC-EP in Havana, Cuba, with the aim of finding a political solution to the armed conflict. However, the talks have brought both breakthroughs and backlashes and, whilst enjoying high levels of support, face serious opposition in Colombia.

The event, which is open to the public, will take place in School III in St Salvator’s Quad at the University at 5.15pm on Thursday 14 November.

Note to Editors

Issued by the Press Office, University of St Andrews

Contact Fiona MacLeod on 01334 462108 / 0771 414 0559.

Ref: (Colombia 06/11/13)

View the University’s latest news at www.st-andrews.ac.uk/news

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