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Contact: Stephen J. Hudik
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Kean University To Host International Human Rights Conference On Modern Slavery
UNION - Kean University’s Human Rights Institute will host a conference on Slavery in the Twenty-first Century on Friday, February 13 from 8:30 a.m. to 3 p.m. in Wilkins Theatre. The all-day conference will feature addresses by Ishmael Beah, former child soldier and author of A Long Way Gone: Memoirs of a Boy Soldier, and Dr. Kevin Bales, President of Free the Slaves and author of the critically acclaimed Disposable People: New Slavery in the Global Economy.
"Our university is committed to raising awareness of ongoing human rights violations taking place around the world," said Kean University President Dawood Farahi. "It is our responsibility to educate others about the reality of modern slavery and how we can mobilize to end these injustices and bonds affecting more than 27 million people today."
According to Free the Slaves, more than 27 million individuals are enslaved throughout the world, with the majority in India and African countries. Human-trafficking is the modern-day slave trade. Free the Slaves estimates that at least 14,500 slaves are brought into the United States each year.
The morning session will include eyewitness accounts and perspectives from leading experts on various aspects of modern slavery. Speakers include:
- Ishmael Beah is a native of Sierra Leone in West Africa. He was forced to become a child soldier in the Sierra Leonean government army at 13. He fought for almost three years before being rescued by United Nations Children's Fund (UNICEF). Entertainment Weekly called Beah’s firsthand account "a clear-eyed, undeniably compelling look at wartime violence."
- Dr. Kevin Bales is the world’s leading expert on modern slavery. The National Post (Canada) labeled his groundbreaking book "as fine and accessible a work of investigative reporting as any of the best that have appeared over the last decade." He has received numerous awards for his work, including the Peabody Award (2000) and two Emmy Awards (2002) for the documentary, Slavery: A Global Investigation.
- Nan Kennelly is the Deputy Director of the Office to Monitor and Combat Trafficking in Persons for the U.S. Department of State.
- Kay Chernush is a leading U.S. photographer. Known for her exhibits featuring child slavery, she has photographed more than 50 feature stories for Smithsonian Magazine and has shot for many other national publications.
The afternoon session will include a roundtable discussion with several speakers, including:
- Dr. Susan MacLaury, Phd., LSW, is an associate professor at Kean University and the executive producer of the Academy-Award nominated film War/Dance. The film tells the story of three children in the Ugandan war zone. She is also the executive director of Shine Global, Inc., a non-profit film production company dedicated to ending the exploitation and abuse of children.
- Elizabeth F. Defeis is a Professor of Law at Seton Hall University School of Law. She serves on the Council of International Affairs and the European Affairs Committee for the Association of the Bar of the City of New York. She has lectured internationally on human rights, rule of law, democracy and constitution building, electoral reform and standards for independence of the judiciary and has written has written extensively on the topic.
- Winston Nagan, FRSA, is the Samuel T. Dell Research Scholar Professor of Law and Founding Director of the Institute for Human Rights and Peace Development at the University of Florida Levin College of Law.
- Beatriz Alaniz is the New Jersey Case Manager for Polaris Project, one of the leading anti-trafficking organizations in the U.S. and Japan. She was exposed to child exploitation and labor exploitation primarily amongst women and children while growing up in Mexico and living in India for several months.
Kean University’s Human Rights Institute sponsored its first conference in 2008 on Darfur. A new addition to the Nancy Thompson Library will open this fall and house the Human Rights Institute. The Institute aims to raise awareness of human rights violations worldwide among the general public, teachers and students. The Institute’s goals are to combat genocide and promote conflict resolution through wide-ranging activities, including conferences, seminars, teacher training and curricula development for New Jersey schoolchildren. The new home will include a state-of-art gallery to highlight issues, artwork and publications related to human rights violations and victories around the world.
The human rights conference is free and open to the public. Seating is limited and advanced registration is required at www.kean.edu/humanrightsconference.