International Human Rights Advocates Gather for Joan B. Kroc Institute for Peace & Justice Conferenc

Security is a basic human requirement. Reports from around the world confirm that women and children are the most violated, targeted and have the least security during and after conflicts. Everyday millions are living without any security to gather firewood or food, care for their homes and children because those charged to protect are not. 

How to work with security sectors (peacekeepers, police services, armed forces, paramilitary groups, prison personnel, the border patrols) and support their awareness and training in protecting the state and citizens is a primary focus area of the Fifth Annual Joan B. Kroc Institute for Peace & Justice (IPJ) Women PeaceMakers Conference, entitled “Crafting Human Security in an Insecure World.”

From Sept. 24-26, at the University of San Diego, experts and human rights advocates will gather with women and men coming from, or working in, war-torn areas around to the world to exchange experience and resources to address this global problem.  Speakers will include past participants of the Women PeaceMakers program, non-governmental agency advocates, and international military peacekeeping personnel, including:

Louise Arbour – Arbour was the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights, organizing the United Nations’ human rights efforts, from 2004 until June 2008. As high commissioner, Arbour earned an international reputation for courage and tenacity and gained the respect of governments, human rights groups and human rights victims around the world. Arbour will give the keynote address of the conference at 7 p.m. Thursday in the IPJ Theatre. This is her first public address since departing the UN.

Luz Mendez – Mendez was a 2004 participant of the Women PeaceMakers program. She is president of the Advisory Board and coordinator of the peacebuilding and nonviolence against women program of the National Union of Guatemalan Women (UNAMG), a women’s association working for women’s human rights, gender equality and social justice. From 2005-2008, she was coordinator of the Women Agents for Change Consortium, which set in motion a political process for psychosocial healing and empowerment of women survivors of sexual violence during the armed conflict in Guatemala.

Mendez will speak Thursday from 9:30 to 11 a.m. on the panel, “Ending Cycles of Conflict Through Gender-Inclusive Peacebuilding.”

Lt. Gen. Jasbir Singh Lidder – Lt. Gen. Lidder was chief military observer and force commander of the United Nations Mission in Sudan (UNMIS) until April 2008. He has more than 38 years of active military service and has served as General Staff Officer Grade 1 (Operations and Training) with the Indian Military Training Team in Bhutan and Chief of Staff with the United Nations Operation in Mozambique. During his tenure from June 1994 to January 1995, he assisted in successfully demobilizing over 70,000 armed personnel of the government and rebel armies and ensuring the holding of multiparty elections.

Lt. Gen. Lidder will speak Thursday from 2 to 3:30 p.m. on the panel “Protecting Civilians in Armed Conflict from Violence, including Sexual Violence.”

Kathleen Staunt -  Staunt is a University of Texas at El Paso political science professor, who recently authored a book that focuses on violence against women in Juarez. The book, “Violence and Activism at the Border: Gender, Fear and Everyday Life in Ciudad Juarez,” includes six years of research related to murder and violence in the border town and focuses on the role of activism in solving those problems. Staunt will speak on Friday from 9 to 10:30 a.m. as part of the panel discussion: “Advancing Inclusive Security in Multiple Settings.”

Helen Mack – Mack is president of the Myrna Mack Foundation, created in 1993 to combat impunity and contribute to the modernization and democratization of justice in Guatemala. She created the Foundation after the murder of her sister, Myrna Elizabeth Mack Chang, and worked to push forward a judicial process to bring the murderers to justice. Mack will speak Friday from 1:30 to 3:30 p.m. on the panel, “Enforcing Gender Equality Mandates as Central to Peace and Security: What is the New vision of the Role of Law?”

2008 Women PeaceMakers – Each year, the IPJ welcomes four women from around the world for an eight-week residency at USD. The women have been locally involved in human rights and peacemaking efforts in their countries and will use this time to share their stories with students, document their work, and seek ways to further their peacemaking efforts in their home countries. The women – from Bangladesh, the Democratic Republic of the Congo, South Africa and Peru – began their residency at the IPJ on Sept. 6.

For a complete list of speakers, go to

About The University of San Diego

The Joan B. Kroc Institute for Peace & Justice is part of the Joan B. Kroc School of Peace Studies at the University of San Diego. The institute is dedicated to fostering peace, cultivating justice and creating a safer world through education, research, and peacemaking activities.

The University of San Diego is a Catholic institution of higher learning chartered in 1949; the school enrolls approximately 7,500 students and is known for its commitment to teaching, the liberal arts, the formation of values and community service. The inauguration of the Joan B. Kroc School of Peace Studies brings the university’s total number of schools and colleges to six. Other academic divisions include the College of Arts and Sciences and the schools of Business Administration, Law, Leadership and Education Sciences, and Nursing and Health Science.


About the University of San Diego

The University of San Diego sets the standard for an engaged, contemporary Catholic university where innovative Changemakers confront humanity’s urgent challenges. With more than 8,000 students from 75 countries and 44 states, USD is the youngest independent institution on the U.S. News & World Report list of top 100 universities in the United States. USD’s eight academic divisions include the College of Arts and Sciences, the School of Business, the Shiley-Marcos School of Engineering, the School of Law, the School of Leadership and Education Sciences, the Hahn School of Nursing and Health Science, the Joan B. Kroc School of Peace Studies, and the Division of Professional and Continuing Education. USD recently concluded our successful $317M Leading Change: The Campaign for USD, which represented the most ambitious fundraising effort in the history of the university. In September 2016, USD introduced Envisioning 2024, a strategic plan that capitalizes on the university’s recent progress and aligns new strategic goals with current strengths to help shape a vision for the future as the university looks ahead to its 75th anniversary in the year 2024.