Senator Dick Durbin Announces Proposed Human Rights Legislation at Northwestern Law

April 09, 2015

In a speech at Northwestern University School of Law Wednesday, US Senator Dick Durbin, D-Ill., announced he will be reintroducing the Crimes Against Humanity Act during this session of Congress.

Addressing Northwestern Law students, faculty, and members of the community, Durbin explained the legislation, first proposed in 2009, would close a loophole currently preventing the prosecution of individuals in the United States for human rights violations committed elsewhere.

Durbin also shared experiences from his years on the Senate Judiciary Subcommittee dedicated to human rights, noting that “even in hyper-partisan times, I found that practices that shock the conscience have the ability to bring together broad coalitions.”

“If you want to end [human rights abuses], look for unexpected partners,” he said, describing his travels to Rwanda with then-Senator Sam Brownback, R-Kan., and mentioning former Senator Tom Coburn, R-Okla., as a strong ally on this work.

Durbin highlighted the Genocide Accountability Act, the Child Soldiers Accountability Act, and the Child Soldiers Prevention Act as major bipartisan accomplishments since the subcommittee was created in 2007.

The event was sponsored by the Bluhm Legal Clinic’s Center for International Human Rights (CIHR) and the Northwestern University Human Rights Project.
“Senator Durbin’s career has been hallmarked by his dedication to international human rights and the rule of law at home and around the world,” said Juliet Sorensen, a clinical associate professor of law with the CIHR.

The CIHR, part of the Bluhm Legal Clinic, provides a comprehensive range of classroom courses on international human rights, criminal, and humanitarian law. Led by David Scheffer, the Mayer Brown/Robert A. Helman Professor of Law and former US Ambassador at Large for War Crimes Issues, the center also provides valuable clinical experiences and research opportunities for students interested in the protection of human rights on a global scale.