University of Wisconsin–Madison

Mildred Fish-Harnack Human Rights and Democracy Lecture

The Mildred Fish-Harnack Human Rights and Democracy Lecture is an annual event designed to promote greater understanding of human rights and democracy, and enrich international studies at UW–Madison. The lecture brings to campus a person who contributes to the cause of human rights through academic scholarship and/or active leadership.

Commemoration of the 70th Anniversary of the adoption of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights.

2018 Lecture

4 p.m., September 13, 2018, Alumni Lounge, Pyle Center

Navi PillayNavi Pillay

Ms. Pillay, a South African national, was the first woman to start a law practice in her home province of Natal in 1967. Over the next few years, she acted as a defense attorney for anti-apartheid activists, exposing torture, and helping establish key rights for prisoners on Robben Island.

She also worked as a lecturer at the University of KwaZulu-Natal, and later was appointed Vice-President of the Council of the University of Durban Westville. In 1995, after the end of apartheid, Ms. Pillay was appointed as acting judge on the South African High Court., The same year she was elected by the UN General Assembly to be a judge on the International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda, where she served a total of eight years, the last for (1999-2003) as President. She played a critical role in the ICTR’s groundbreaking jurisprudence on rape as genocide, as well as on issues of freedom of speech and hate propaganda. In 2003, she was appointed as a judge on the Interionatal Criminal Court int he Hague, where she served on the Appeals Chamber until August 2008. She was appointed UN High Commissioner for Human Rights in 2008 and served until 2014.

In South Africa, as a member of the Women’s National Coalition, she contributed to the inclusion of the equality clause in the country’s Constitution that prohibits discrimination on grounds of race gender, religion, and sexual orientation. She co-founded Equality Now, an international women’s rights organization, and has been involved with other organizations working on issues relating to children, detainees, victims of torture and of domestic violence, and a range of economic, social and cultural rights.

Sponsored by the International Division, Human Rights Program, and the Global Legal Studies Center.

Reception to follow. Event is free and open to the public. For planning purposes please register at Eventbrite.

About the Lecture

The lecture is named after a Milwaukee native who was a UW–Madison student in the 1920s. While living in Germany, Fish-Harnack assisted in the escape of German Jews and political dissidents. She is the only American civilian executed under the personal instruction of Adolf Hitler, for her resistance to the Nazi regime. The lecture is presently sponsored by the International Division, along with the Human Rights Program, Global Legal Studies Center, Center for Research on Gender and Women, and the 4W Initiative. Learn more about Mildred Fish-Harnack.

Past Speakers

2018: Farhana Khera, “Upholding America’s Promise for All,”

2016: Viviana Krsticevic, “Judging and Gender in the International Realm”

2015: Obiora Chinedu Okafor, “The International Law of Secession and the Protection of the Human Rights of Oppressed Sub-State Groups: Yesterday, Today and Tomorrow”

2012: Rashida Manjoo, “After the Violence: The Dream of Another Reality”