Sunday, March 11, 2007

Thanks to the NYU International Human Rights Colloquium

Professor Philip Alston, a leading worldwide academic on human rights and professor at NYU law school, invited me up to the International Human Rights Colloquim at NYU last week to address the question of the superpower's compliance with international human rights norms. My thanks to Philip and to the students in the Colloquium and to NYU law school - it was a lovely experience in every way. The students, while understandably skeptical of the positions I took, without exception went out of their way to be generous in absorbing my arguments, while not hestating stronlgy to express their own views. I appreciated greatly the intellectual vigor they put into the process, the preparation they put into reading my memo - especially since it arrived barely in time for the session itself and was very much a first draft - and particularly the care they took in listening to views that in large part differed from their own. That kind of fairmindedness is rare in today's bitterly partisan environment and, believe me, it gets noticed. I also greatly appreciated Philip's introduction, because it, too, showed extraordinary intellectual generosity in talking about positions I've taken with respect to things like global civil society over the years, human rights, etc. Philip is a great person anyway - a wickedly dry sense of humor - and NYU is very lucky to have him. The discussion was great, I learned a lot; dinner afterwards Philip and some students in the Village was great fun - at least for me, hope everyone else enjoyed it as much as I did. Even though I had to get up at 4:30 am to get a train back in time for class in DC the next day, the law school gives visitors the finest view in Manhattan from the 14th floor suite looking uptown to the Empire State Building. Great trip, and my thanks to Philip and everyone at NYU.

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