Join CCR Board Members Rhonda Copelon and Peter Weiss for a symposium on: Preventing Torture


Add to My Calendar Friday, March 28, 2008


This Symposium will bring together leading international and U.S. experts, including former military officials, academics, practitioners, human rights advocates, politicians, journalists, and students to explore recent developments in the international law of torture.

The focus is the U.N. Committee Against Torture's historic General Comment 2, issued in November 2007, respecting Article 2 of the Convention Against Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment ("CAT"). Emphasizing the non-derogability of both torture and cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment (ill-treatment), the General Comment clarifies the scope of the Convention and outlines effective preventive measures.

The General Comment addresses key fault lines in the absolute prohibition against torture and ill-treatment that have been opened in the name of counter-terrorism. It also underscores the applicability of the Convention to sexualized and gender violence, where perpetrated by state officials as well as where state officials acquiesce to private violence, including domestic violence.

Speakers will address the authority, adequacy, and policy implications of the General Comment. Since the U.S. is a State party to the CAT, speakers will also address the relevance of the Comment to current laws and practices of the Bush administration and to positive reforms and initiatives needed to bring U.S. law and practice into compliance with its international commitments to eliminate torture and ill-treatment in every sphere.


Opening Remarks
Felice Gaer, former Vice-Chair and current Rapporteur of the CAT Committee, as well as Co-Rapporteur responsible for drafting General Comment 2.

Lisa Davis, Editor-in-Chief of the New York City Law Review, and Mark Shulman, Chair of the International Human Rights Committee of the Association of the Bar of the City of New York.

Panel I: Prohibited Conduct
Moderated by Luis Benigno Gallegos Chiriboga (invited), an expert member of the CAT Committee, this panel will examine Comment 2's provisions clarifying the prohibitions of the Convention, and the application of Comment 2 to debated practices in the U.S., as well as to sexualized violence and abuse.

Panelists will include:
  • Sir. Nigel Rodley, former U.N. Special Rapporteur on Torture, expert member of the U.N. Human Rights Committee;
  • Tony Lagouranis (invited), former U.S. Army interrogator;
  • Nora Sveaass, President of the Human Rights Committee of the Norwegian Psychological Association, expert member of the CAT Committee;
  • Patricia Viseur-Sellers, former Legal Advisor for Gender-Related Crimes for the International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia.


Panel II: Protected Contexts
Moderated by Zonke Majodina, an expert member of the U.N. Human Rights Committee, this panel will examine the scope and reach of General Comment 2. Discussion will include various applications of the Convention: from where a state acts through private entities, to rendition, and to obligations of the state to intervene and prevent private violence, including sexual and domestic violence.

Panelists will include:
  • Walter Kalin, Former U.N. Special Rapporteur on the Situation of Human Rights in Occupied Kuwait, expert member of the U.N. Human Rights Committee;
  • Scott Horton, Adjunct Professor, Columbia Law School, contributor to Harper's Magazine;
  • Margaret L. Satterthwaite, Professor, NYU School of Law, Research Director, Center for Human Rights and Global Justice;
  • Rhonda Copelon, Professor, CUNY School of Law, Director of the International Women's Human Rights Clinic.


Panel III: Preventing Torture: New Approaches
This panel will highlight innovative litigation strategies and policy efforts designed to prevent torture and ill-treatment. The discussion will include issues of accountability to the rule of law, universal jurisdiction, immunities, methodologies for preventing torture and ill-treatment in interrogation (such as videotaping), and popular educational initiatives.

Panelists will include:
  • Peter Weiss, Vice President, Center for Constitutional Rights;
  • Steven Kleinman, an experienced interrogator and consultant on national security policy;
  • Betty Reardon, Professor, Teachers College, Columbia University, Founding Director Emeritus, Peace Education Program.

*Justice Albie Sachs of the South African Constitutional Court will be the key note speaker.


8:00-8:45 a.m. Registration (coffee served)
8:50-9:00 a.m. Welcome
9:00-9:30 a.m. Opening Remarks
9:30-11:00 a.m. Panel I: Prohibited Conduct
11:00-11:15 a.m. Keynote Introduction
11:15-Noon Keynote
Noon-1:15 p.m. Lunch (on your own)
1:15-2:45 p.m. Panel II: Protected Contexts
2:45-3:00 p.m. Coffee Break
3:00-4:30 p.m. Panel III: Preventing Torture: New Approaches
4:30-4:55 p.m. Closing Remarks
5:00-7:00 p.m. Reception (by invitation only)


This event is co-sponsored by the International Human Rights Committee of the Association of the Bar of the City of New York.


About New York City Law Review
New York City Law Review is edited and published by the students of the City University of New York School of Law. The Law Review is dedicated to the school's mission of Law in the Service of Human Needs.

Last modified 

March 20, 2008