Notre Dame law professor Cassel to help draft peace declaration

Author: Melanie McDonald


Douglass Cassel, professor of law at the University of Notre Dame, is one of ten experts from around the world invited by UNESCO and the Spanish Association for International Human Rights Law to help draft a proposed universal declaration of the human right to peace.

Cassel, who serves as the director of Notre Dame Law School’s Center for Civil and Human Rights, is a scholar and practitioner of international human rights, international criminal law, and international humanitarian law.

The drafting committee, which convenes at the end of this month in Barcelona, Spain, consists of two international experts from each of the five geographical regions represented at the United Nations: Latin America and the Caribbean; Africa; Asia; Western Europe and other western states (including the United States); and Eastern Europe. Ultimately, a draft of the peace declaration will be submitted to the United Nations Human Rights Council, with a recommendation that it be adopted by the General Assembly of the United Nations.

Cassel’s scholarly articles in English and Spanish are published in the United States, Latin America and Europe, and he lectures at universities and conferences worldwide. On behalf of retired United States diplomats, and leading experts on international law, he has filed several amicus curiae briefs in the U.S. Supreme Court, involving the rights of prisoners at Guantanamo, and accountability for human rights violations under the Alien Tort Claims Act. He represents victims of human rights violations in Colombia, Guatemala, Peru and Venezuela, in cases before the Inter-American Commission and Inter-American Court of Human Rights.

Cassel has served as legal advisor to the United Nations Commission on the Truth for El Salvador; executive council member of the American Society of International Law; co-chair of the International Committee of the Board of Directors of the Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights Under Law; chair of the Independent International Panel on Alleged Collusion in Sectarian Killings in Northern Ireland; and consultant to the Department of State, Department of Justice, Ford Foundation, the President of the American Bar Association, and non-governmental human rights organizations.

In 2000 and again in 2003, he was nominated by the U.S. Government, and elected by the Organization of American States, to serve on the board of the Justice Studies Center of the Americas, of which he was elected president. Since 2000 he has been president of the Due Process of Law Foundation, based in Washington, D.C., which promotes judicial reform throughout the hemisphere.

Cassel’s human rights commentaries on Chicago Public Radio, 91.5 FM WBEZ, are available online at: