Student Activism Brings United Nations Special Adviser Dieng To Genocide Symposium

Student Activism Brings United Nations Special Adviser Dieng To Genocide Symposium

Adama Dieng, special adviser on the prevention of genocide to United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon, will headline Shenandoah University’s Genocide and Mass Atrocity Prevention Symposium on Wednesday, Dec. 4, from 2 p.m. to 4 p.m. in Halpin Harrison Hall, Stimpson Auditorium, on the campus of Shenandoah University.

The symposium commemorates the 65th anniversary of the Convention for the Prevention and Punishment of the Crime of Genocide, which was adopted by the United Nations General Assembly on Dec. 9, 1948, and entered into force on Jan. 12, 1951.

 President Tracy Fitzsimmons, Ph.D., will open the symposium and introduce the keynote address, “Prevention of Genocide: Risk, Resilience and Responsibility,” to be given by Mr. Dieng.

“Mr. Dieng’s visit is a direct result of our students’ desire to become activists on behalf of the victims of genocide around the world,” said Associate Professor of World Languages and Cultures Petra Schweitzer, Ph.D.

The students in last year’s Remnants of Genocides First-Year Seminar course created an iMovie that detailed the atrocities of genocide throughout the years and encouraged fellow students to take action. Dr. Schweitzer contacted the United Nations Office the Special Adviser on the Prevention of Genocide and scheduled a time to deliver the iMovie and learn more about the office and its mandate.

“We knew we’d be meeting with an office representative that day, but had no idea of the unforgettable honor we were about to experience,” Schweitzer said. “Mr. Dieng was gracious enough to take time out of his busy schedule that day to discuss with each of our students why they felt it was so important to make this type of movie. What a life-changing moment for many of our students! The connection we created with Mr. Dieng gave us the chance to invite him to campus to speak to not only our students, faculty and staff, but to the general public, as well.”

Following the address will be a roundtable with Charles T. Call, Ph.D., senior adviser, Bureau of Conflict and Stabilization Operations, U.S. Department of State and Elizabeth B. White, Ph.D., research director, Center for the Prevention of Genocide, United States Holocaust Memorial Museum. Drs. Call and White will discuss the international legal obligation to prevent genocide. Shenandoah University Henkel Family Chair in International Relations Eric K. Leonard, Ph.D., will moderate the roundtable discussion. Audience members will have an opportunity to ask questions to all presenters.

A reception will follow the event. The symposium is free and open to the public. Questions about the program should be directed to Schweitzer at

More on Adama Dieng:

Adama Dieng was appointed Special Adviser on the Prevention of Genocide to United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon in July 2012. Mr. Dieng previously served three terms as registrar of the International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda (ICTR).

As a legal and human rights expert, Dieng has a distinguished career in contributing to the strengthening of rule of law, fighting impunity and promoting capacity-building in the area of judicial and democratic institutions, including fact-finding missions, publications and media.

He has also contributed to the establishment of several non-governmental organizations in Africa; served on the International Commission of Jurists; served as the United Nations (U.N.) Independent Expert for Haiti; acted as Envoy of the U.N. Secretary-General to Malawi; and served as the driving force behind the establishment of the African Court on Human and Peoples’ Rights.

Dieng has lectured on international law and human rights at institutes and universities throughout the world, and has experience with a number of international organizations, including the U.N. Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) and the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR).

He graduated with a law degree from the Dakar University and holds a Certificate from the Research Centre of The Hague Academy of International Law. He also holds a Certificate on Homeland Security, Internal and External Security from the Paris Institute of International High Studies.