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November 1, 2006

Event Contact: Sarah Cline, Rapoport Center, (512) 232-4857,
Press Contact: Kirston Fortune, Assistant Dean for Communications, (512) 471.7330 or

Conference on Human Rights and U.S. Foreign Policy Based on Papers of "Mr. Human Rights," Dec. 1–2

Streaming Video of the Conference Now Available in Windows Media Format:
(Requires Windows Media Player)

AUSTIN, Texas–The Bernard and Audre Rapoport Center for Human Rights and Justice will host a conference on "The Life and Legacy of George Lister: Reconsidering Human Rights, Democracy and U.S. Foreign Policy" on Friday and Saturday, Dec. 1–2, at The University of Texas School of Law. The event is free and open to the public.

A highlight of the conference is a Friday evening panel discussion with U.S. Sen. Tom Harkin of Iowa and former member of Congress Don Fraser. Both played seminal roles in early Congressional action on human rights in the early-mid 1970s. In a discussion moderated by NPR's Morning Edition host Steve Inskeep, they will discuss the role of Congress in the protection of human rights. Although capacity has been reached on the dinner, it will be webcast and available at by Tuesday, Dec. 5.

The conference is based on the papers of career diplomat George Lister, which were donated to the Benson Latin American Collection at the University of Texas in July 2005. Called "Mr. Human Rights" by Arthur Schlesinger, Lister served at the State Department for six tumultuous decades, from 1941 until 2002. His papers will offer conference participants the opportunity to consider the roles that human rights have played in U.S. foreign policy, both before and after the creation of a human rights bureau in the U.S. State Department and in both Republican and Democratic administrations. As Lister was a specialist in Latin America, U.S. foreign policies towards Latin America will form the basis of a large portion of the discussion.

The conference will also bring together a variety of people who knew Lister well and scholars of the periods discussed. In addition to Harkin, Fraser and Inskeep, other speakers include law, history and public policy professors from American University, Harvard, Johns Hopkins, University of North Carolina, University of Minnesota, The University of Texas, and Washington University. They will join experts from the State Department, Carter Center, Kissinger Associates, National Public Radio, the National Security Archive, the Open Society, and the Washington Interfaith Alliance for Middle East Peace.

"Because he was a consummate networker, we believe that Lister would have been pleased with the mix of public servants, activists and academics who are joining us for this exciting event," said Professor Karen Engle, director of the Bernard and Audre Rapoport Center for Human Rights and Justice and organizer of the conference.

The Rapoport Center is hosting the conference. Co-sponsors include UT's Lozano Long Institute for Latin American Studies, the Robert S. Strauss Center for International Security and Law, UT General Libraries, and the Humanities Institute.

For the complete schedule and registration information, please see

Related Links:
Rapoport Center Receives UT Grant to Explore Life and Legacy of Diplomat George Lister:

Papers of Diplomat George Lister Come to The University of Texas at Austin:

Rapoport Center: