February 5, 2009
Webster University Welcomes South African Activist as 2009 Des Lee Visiting Scholar in Global Awareness
Human rights activist, academic and lawyer Rashida Manjoo has been named Webster University’s 2009 Des Lee Visiting Scholar in Global Awareness. Philanthropist E. Desmond Lee established the annual lectureship at Webster University in 2000 to help foster international understanding among students and within communities across Webster’s worldwide network of campuses. Manjoo is based in Webster’s Center for International Studies and serves as a resource for each of the University’s five schools and colleges. In keeping with Webster University’s celebration of the Year of International Human Rights, Manjoo, an advocate of the High Court of South Africa and a Research Associate in the Faculty of Law of the University of Cape Town, is teaching three courses this Spring on human rights, will give numerous community presentations on human rights issues and will lead the University’s spring conference on American exceptionalism, May 1 and 2. The conference will focus on the International Criminal Court and the UN Human Rights Council and will feature an International Criminal Court judge and prosecutor.
"I am honored to be the first African recepient of the Des Lee award,” Manjoo said. “I am thrilled to be here during this historic and challenging time. Such times afford us greater opportunities to engage more deeply on issues that impact us on a global level. In this regard, I envision some lively discussions, particularly with students, through the courses that I teach here at Webster University."
About Rashida Manjoo
Manjoo’s current research interests include legal pluralism and transitional justice issues, with a primary focus on gender justice. She recently taught human rights at Harvard Law School and was a member of the Commission on Gender Equality (CGE), a South African constitutional body mandated to oversee the promotion and protection of gender equality. She also served for five years as parliamentary commissioner. Prior to her appointment to the CGE, she led social context training for judges and lawyers where she designed both content and methodology during her time at the Law, Race and Gender Research Unit of the University of Cape Town and at the University of Natal, Durban.
Manjoo helped set up both a national and a provincial network on violence against women. She is the founder of the Gender Unit at the Law Clinic at the University of Natal and the Domestic Violence Assistance Programme at the Durban Magistrates Court (the first such project in a court in South Africa). She was also active in the Provincial Executive of the Women’s Coalition, a forum that was set up to formulate the Women’s Charter (a document setting out the demands of women in a new democracy). Manjoo was also a member of the Women’s Caucus for Gender Justice in the International Criminal Court where she remains an advisory board member. She is a member of the Women living under Muslim Laws Network.
About Webster University’s Year in International Human Rights
Webster University is celebrating the 60th anniversary of the UN Universal Declaration of Human Rights with “The Year of International Human Rights,” a year-long series of community events and academic study that highlight human rights.
During the aftermath of World War II and in response to its atrocities, the United Nations established a Commission on Human Rights led by Eleanor Roosevelt. The product of the commission was an international bill of human rights that is regarded as one of the most significant documents of the 20th century and, today, is a widely recognized global standard for humane treatment. Webster University is uniquely positioned to celebrate international human rights because it was the first university to establish an undergraduate degree in human rights and is also the only university with a 100-plus international extended campus network. Webster also has strong undergraduate and graduate programs in international relations and international business.
About Webster University
With its home campus in St. Louis, Webster University (www.webster.edu) is a worldwide institution committed to delivering high-quality learning experiences that transform students for global citizenship and individual excellence. Founded in 1915, Webster offers undergraduate and graduate degree programs through five schools and colleges, and a global network of more than 100 campuses. Its 20,000-plus student population represents almost 150 nationalities. The University’s core values include excellence in teaching, joining theory and practice, small class sizes, and educating students to be lifelong independent learners, fully prepared to participate in an increasingly international society.
Since opening its first campus overseas in Geneva in 1978, Webster has become a recognized leader and innovator in global education, with an international presence that now includes campuses in London; Vienna; Amsterdam and Leiden, the Netherlands; Shanghai, Shenzhen and Chengdu, China; and Bangkok and Cha-am, Thailand. Webster also has educational partnerships with universities in Mexico and Japan.