University of North Dakota Faculty/Staff Newsletter

Law professor a rising star among global media

Gregory S. Gordon

Gregory S. Gordon

Law Professor Gregory S. Gordon, a renowned researcher on human rights law and head of the Center for Human Rights and Genocide Studies (CHRGS) at UND, continues to be the go-to man for world media seeking knowledgeable insight and expert opinion on the most notorious international court cases related to genocide and crimes against humanity.

Gordon, an associate law professor who is currently in Hong Kong, most recently was sought out by the British Broadcasting Corp. (BBC), in London – a worldwide leader in news and opinion – to provide on-air analysis of the recent verdict in the case of Charles Taylor, the ex-Liberian president who was convicted in an international court on Thursday for his role in atrocities committed during a brutal war in Sierra Leone. The verdict was handed down by the International Court at The Hague in the Netherlands.

“It’s a historic occasion; it’s the first time in the history of the world that a leader has been found guilty of atrocities before an international criminal court – so it’s very historical; it’s very significant,” Gordon told the BCC in the nearly four minute interview broadcast worldwide Thursday (April 26, 2012).

According to Gordon, The Special Court for Sierra Leone in The Hague convicted Taylor of “accomplice liability” or aiding and abetting atrocities by rebels, but the judges cleared Taylor of direct command responsibility, saying he never stepped foot in the country of Sierra Leone and had no direct control over the rebels. The judges ruled that he was guilty of all 11 counts of aiding and abetting war crimes and crimes against humanity. Sentencing is slated to be announced by the end of May.

Gordon also is a former world crimes prosecutor for the International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda. On Sunday, he reflected on his latest BBC interview.

“This is the biggest and highest profile media analysis I’ve ever done,” said Gordon, from Hong Kong, where he is taking part in presentations related to his work as an expert in genocide and human rights law.

The fact that Gordon considers it a crowning achievement, to date, says a lot, given the number of interviews and analyses he’s provided to the world media outlets and other organizations over the years.

Gordon has been featured on BBC, C-SPAN, National Public Radio and Radio France Internationale, to name a few, as an expert on war crimes prosecution. He also has lectured on that subject at the U.S. Army J.A.G. School, the Harry S. Truman Presidential Museum and Library and the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum. In addition to contributing to the Holocaust Museum's influential "Voices on Anti-Semitism" podcast series, he has had the honor of speaking to members of both the British and Canadian Parliaments and sharing the dais with former U.N. Ambassadors Richard Holbrooke and Andrew Young. On behalf of the Ethiopian government, he has trained high-level federal prosecutors in Addis Ababa , and was a hand-selected United Nation’s consultant in Cambodia for prosecutors of the Khmer Rouge genocide trials. In December 2011, he trained lawyers and judges for war crimes at the Court of Bosnia and Herzegovina.

His scholarship on international criminal law has been published in the Columbia Journal of Transnational Law and the Virginia Journal of International Law and he has presented at Yale University, Georgetown University Law Center, Emory University and Katholieke Universiteit Leuven. He also organized the successful John F. Kennedy Interdisciplinary Conference at UND, featuring the late Ted Sorenson among other prominent JFK experts. He was the inaugural winner of the North Dakota Spirit Law School Faculty Achievement Award in 2009.

Last year, Gordon co-wrote the U.S. Supreme Court amicus brief of Holocaust and Darfur Genocide survivors in the historic human rights case Yousuf v. Samantar. He also represented the International League for Human Rights at the International Criminal Court Conference in Uganda.

Also, as director of the CHRGS, Gordon has worked with regional and national human rights groups to bring experts and survivors of Nazi and other modern atrocities to UND.

-- David L. Dodds, media relations/writer and editor, University Relations, 777-5529, david.dodds@und.edu.


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