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Remembering Owen Kupferschmid

kupferschmid panel discusses two decades of violations and accountability

The Owen M. Kupferschmid Holocaust/Human Rights Project held a memorial panel in December honoring the organization’s founder, a 1986 law school graduate, and his work promoting accountability for human rights violations worldwide.

“Remembering Owen Kupferschmid: The Age of Accountability, Two Decades On” featured four panelists who discussed their perspectives on the evolution of accountability for human rights violations over the past twenty years.

The Holocaust/Human Rights Project helps to ensure that the precedential value of Holocaust-related law is fully realized and applied to state-sponsored human rights violations today. The project also organizes major conferences to address specific legal issues related to the Holocaust and other human rights violations, such as the annual Kupferschmid lecture.

The speakers included Eli Rosenbaum, former director of the US Department of Justice Office of Special Investigations (OSI), which was primarily responsible for identifying and deporting Nazi war criminals, from 1995 to 2010, when OSI was merged into the new Human Rights and Special Prosecution Section. He is now the director of strategy and policy in the new section. P. Sabin Willett, a partner at Bingham McCutchen in Boston, has led the firm’s pro bono team representing prisoners at Guantanamo Bay since 2005. Mr. Willett’s leadership in defense of the unlawful detention of Uighurs by the United States at Guantanamo led to several victories and the release of prisoners who were no longer deemed “enemy combatants.”

Also on the panel was Allan A. Ryan Jr., the first director of the Office of Special Investigations, US Department of Justice, in 1980, where he was responsible for the investigation and prosecution of Nazi war criminals in the United States. Since 1985, he has been an attorney at Harvard University and Harvard Business School. He also teaches human rights law at BC Law and has been a consultant on genocide prosecutions to the government of Rwanda. Completing the panel was Ruti Teitel, the Ernst C. Stiefel Professor of Comparative Law at New York Law School and visiting professor at the London School of Economics. She is a life member of the Council on Foreign Relations, and is a member of the International Law Association Human Rights Committee, London and US.