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Law school program set to earn special status with United Nations

June 7, 2011

The United Nations has recommended a program at Indiana University School of Law - Indianapolis for "Special Consultative Status" to the U.N., which would allow its students and faculty to engage in treaty negotiation sessions. The Program in International Human Rights Law learned of the honor on May 18.

George E. Edwards, professor at I.U. School of Law - Indianapolis and the founding director of PIHRL, said, "The PIHRL gained this U.N. status in part because of the long relationship we have had with the U.N., including sending our J.D. and Master of Laws (LL.M.) students to work as U.N. interns. We sent our first intern to the U.N. in 1997."

Over the past five years, government representatives of more than 50 countries have had the opportunity to review PIHRL membership information, financial records, projects, staff and student credentials, goals and mission, structure and organization, and information about the law school, the campus, and Indiana University.

"This is the equivalent of the U.N. telling the PIHRL, 'We have vetted your organization extensively and have determined that you and your members possess special expertise,'" Edwards said.

Under the new status, which is scheduled to be formally ratified July 25, faculty and students working with the PIHRL will have more open access to U.N. facilities, as well as the right to participate as a non-governmental organization in treaty negotiation sessions, Human Rights Council sessions, and other U.N. activities. Edwards and PIHRL Program Manager Perfecto "Boyet" Caparas will possess permanent NGO badges, which will permit them entry to U.N. facilities around the world, ensuring easy access to the diplomats and staff as they advocate for human rights.

About 2,000 organizations representing 200 countries have been accredited with special consultative status by the U.N. The PIHRL, in its accreditation dossier, included reports detailing human rights concerns worldwide, among them, discrimination against women in Chad and Australia, indigenous rights in Panama, and sexual-orientation discrimination in the United States and Chile.

More information about the PIHRL is available on the law school's website: http://indylaw.indiana.edu/humanrights/.

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