November 14 - 15, 2013 from 9:00am to 8:00pm

Blood Libel Conference

Jacob Burns Moot Court Room

On Nov.14-15, the Program on Holocaust Human Rights Studies and the Law & Humanities Institute will sponsor a conference on the tragic history of the "Blood Libel", in which Jews have been accused across the millennia of killing Christian children to use their blood in the Passover ritual. Originating in England early in the second millennium, the libel spread eastward to Russia, and it is not unknown in the United States and Canada.  One of the most infamous of these libels was the Mendel Beilis case in the waning days of Tsarist Russia, and it is the 100th anniversary of the near-miraculous acquittal of Beilis that occasionalizes this conference. The scholarly centerpiece of our discussions will be Hannah R. Johnson's influential recent book, BLOOD LIBEL, a complex history of the phenomenon, and Prof. Johnson of the U. of Pittsburgh will speak; the literary centerpiece will be Bernhard Malamud's fictional rendering of the Beilis case, THE FIXER , which will be discussed widely by various speakers. Panelists include the grandson of Beilis and attorney Jeremy Garber, who have a major bone to pick with the novel; Prof. Vivian Curran of the U. of Pittsburgh Law School; Prof. David Fraser of the U. of Nottingham (UK); Prof. Jeffrey Mehlman of Boston U.; Prof. Harriet Murav of the U. of Illinois; Prof. Sanford Levinson of U. Texas Law School; and Prof. Richard Weisberg of Cardozo.

For further details and to reserve for the symposium, contact Johanna Rubbert at johannac.rubbert@gmail.com



February 26, 2013

Deconstructing Prevention: The Theory, Policy, and Practice of Mass Atrocity Prevention

Jacob Burns Moot Court Room

Over the past decade, the prevention agenda has expanded to include conflict prevention, protection of civilians, genocide prevention, atrocity prevention, transitional justice, and the Responsibility to Protect. While this expansion is welcome, it does not come without its challenges. The rapid growth in policy response and civil society advocacy has left little time for critique and self-reflection. The prevention field’s underlying assumptions and goals have remained for the most part under-examined and under-theorized.

This conference seeks to reveal an understanding of atrocity prevention, defining its parameters and rationalizing its relationship to related disciplines and agendas. It will result in an edited volume serving as an authoritative work on the state of the field of prevention.


November 18, 2010
The Responsibility to Protect:
When Does the World Have a Duty to Care?
Jacob Burns Moot Court Room


Dean Mathew Diller
Benjamin N. Cardozo School of Law


Dr. Rod Rastan
Legal Adviser, Office of the Prosecutor, International Criminal Court

Aisling Reidy
Senior Legal Advisor, Human Rights Watch

Kyle Matthews
Concordia University
Lead Researcher, Montreal Institute of Genocide and Human Rights Studies
Director, Will to Intervene Project

Sheri Rosenberg
Benjamin N. Cardozo School of Law
Director, Program in Holocaust and Human Rights Studies
Director, Human Rights and Genocide Clinic

Moderated by
Daniel Stewart
Benjamin N. Cardozo School of Law
Visiting Instructor
International Human Rights Clinical Teaching Fellow

Keynote Speaker:

Honorable Gareth Evans, AO QC
Chancellor, Australian National University
President Emeritus, International Crisis Group
Former Australian Foreign Minister and
Leader of the Government in the Senate
Tuesday, October 26 at 6pm
A New Look at the Dreyfus Affair
Ruth Harris' New Book, Dreyfus:  Politics, Emotion, and the Scandal of the Century, and the 20th Century Phenomenon of French Anti-Semitism

Jacob Burns Moot Court Room

The panel included  
Ruth Harris, Oxford University
Vivian Curran, University of Pittsburgh School of Law
Richard Weisberg, Cardozo School of Law

and was moderated by
Eric Freedman, Cardozo School of Law, Visiting Professor


Monday, March 30, 2009 - 8:45am-6:00pm
Healing the Wounds: Speech, Identity and Reconciliation in Rwanda
Jacobs Moot Court Room
This conference featured a distinguished group of scholars and practitioners to examine the ways in which individual and group conceptions of identity are defined and enforced through the intervention of law, in particular, the 2008 Rwandan "genocide ideology law" and the political context in which it was born--eliminating distinctions between ethnic groups entirely.  Through the eyes of these experts, the strengths and limitations of this legal strategy were examined with implications for policy and practice both by the international community and by governments of states emerging from cycles of severe violence.


Since the 1994 genocide, Rwanda has struggled to promote unity and reconciliation among its peoples in order to create a stable society and lasting peace. Eradicating ‘genocide ideology’ has become a mainstay of the government’s efforts. ‘Genocide ideology’ is broadly defined and has different meanings in law and in popular discourse. The Rwandan Minister of Justice has described genocide ideology as a “spirit” and a recent criminal bill defines it almost as broadly. The closely related laws on discrimination, sectarianism (divisionism) and hate speech likewise seek to punish individuals found guilty of fuelling conflicts among Rwandans or sewing division among them.
These laws seek to abolish ‘genocide ideology’, and hence prevent a future genocide, by creating a Rwandan identity that overcomes the ethnic categories of the past (Hutu, Tutsi and Twa). To achieve these goals, the laws have been simultaneously broadly and strictly interpreted to promote a specific narrative of Rwandan history. Speaking outside of the official narrative could find one in violation of the law. The judicial mechanisms established to punish alleged genocidaires contribute to this narrative.
The power of the law to shape collective and individual identities raises important and complex issues, for which there are diverse opinions. Some wonder whether the government’s suppression of discussion about ethnicity helps forge a new Rwandan identity, or veils other policy objectives, while others believe it is the only way forward.

This Conference sought to explore the interplay of law and identity in Rwanda and the role each plays in reconciliation.
Ultimately, the Conference aimed to assist relevant stakeholders in appreciating the current legal, political, and social climate in Rwanda in order to assist Rwanda in its quest for lasting peace and stability. 

Click here to view the program.

Additionally, conference participants were invited to view My Neighbor My Killer, a film by award winning director Anne Aghion, on Sunday, March 29, at the Museum of Jewish Heritage.  A discussion moderated by Lars Waldorf followed. 

This conference was sponsored by the Program in Holocaust and Human Rights Studies, The Centre for International Human Rights, Institute of Commonwealth Studies, University of London and Institute for the Study of Genocide.

Click here for symposium ADR in the Aftermath Post-Disaster Strategies, Cardozo Journal for Conflict Resolution, Vol. 9.2.

Healing the Wounds: Speech, Identity & Reconciliation in Rwanda and Beyond (2010) is the report based on the conference.


March 10 & 11, 2008
The Responsibility to Protect: A Framework for Preventing Identity-Based Atrocities

This conference sought to provide a forum to conceptualize the normative legal and political content of R2P; to examine the R2P framework against identity-based atrocities including ethnic conflict and genocide and to address the political and operational challenges to the implementation of R2P. Proceedings will be published at a later date.

This conference was presented by the Program in Holocaust and Human Rights Studies and the Department of Political Science at Yeshiva University, with generous support from Humanity United and the the Rick & Darian Swig Philanthropic Fund.


December 4, 2006
Denying Genocide: Law, Identity, and Historical Memory in the Face of Mass Atrocity

It has become axiomatic that for a society to move forward after experiencing mass atrocity, it must acknowledge the “truth” of what happened, through trials, truth commissions, and other methods. In reality, however, many societies have dealt with mass atrocities in the opposite manner: they have denied that the atrocities happened or the society’s part in committing such acts.  In response to instances of historical denial, some countries have turned to criminal and international law.

Experts from a variety of fields, including Deborah Lipstadt, Slavenka Drakulic, Paul van Zyl, Taner Akcam, and other distinguished guests, addressed the questions raised by both denial and the methods used to counter it.  

This conference was presented by the Program in Holocaust and Human Rights Studies and the World Policy Institute.


November 17, 2005
Sexual Slavery:  New Approaches to an Old Problem

Throughout history sexual slavery has continually adapted and evolved along with social, economic, political, and legal developments, rising and falling alongside some of the most crucial moments in world history. The problem continues to exist today and has grown exponentially over the past fifty years. This increase has been made possible because methods of trafficking have outgrown our current legal mechanisms. Sexual slavery was once a localized problem, requiring localized solutions, but has now grown into a global pandemic, requiring a sophisticated mix of local and international response.

This symposium featured a diverse group of powerful speakers who are each key players in the fight against the current rise of the sexual slavery trade.  The speakers aimed to discuss the complex issues surrounding the sexual slave trade as well as arm the symposium's participants with the necessary information and tools to combat the sexual slavery trade on both local and international levels.

This symposium was presented by Cardozo Journal of Law and Gender and the Program in Holocaust and Human Rights Studies.

March 27-29, 2005
The Nuremberg Trials:  A Reappraisal and Their Legacy

On the 60th anniversary of the Nuremberg trial, the Cardozo conference sought to recall and reaffirm the lessons— the legacy— of Nuremberg that underlay the trial's deliberations: that the Nazi regime almost succeeded because of the pathologies of hate and evil, as well as the crimes of indifference and silence.  The conference analyzed the impact of the Nuremberg principles on international law and specifically upon the International Criminal Tribunals for the former Yugoslavia and Rwanda, the Special Court for Sierra Leone, and the recently created International Criminal Court.  Lastly, the conference explored the relevance of the Nuremberg principles to the contemplated Iraqi War Crimes Tribunal and current approaches to preventing genocide. 

This conference was presented by Cardozo's Program in Holocaust and Human Rights Studies and the Cardozo Law Review, and was co-organized by Prof. Michale J. Bazyler, the "1939" Club Law Scholar in Holocaust and Human Rights Studies at Whittier Law School.  This conference was made possible with generous support from the David Berg Foundation.