Monday, November 3, 2014
Lawyers spend a lot of their time crafting arguments. But equally important for lawyers doing human rights work is the ability to connect with others and to engage and inspire.
Last week, CUNY Law School launched the Sorensen Center for International Peace and Justice. Ted Sorensen served as close advisor and speech writer for President Kennedy. Sorensen is known for crafting President Kennedy’ s letter to Khrushchev that helped avoid nuclear war during the Cuban missile crisis. He also drafted speeches for Kennedy on civil rights. Sorensen went on to have a prominent career as an international lawyer, but wrote in his memoir that he hoped to be remembered “as a servant of international peace and justice.”
The Sorensen Center will build on CUNY Law’s strong commitment to public interest work and international peace and justice going back to the work of the late Haywood Burns and Rhonda Copelon and continuing through the International Women’s Human Rights Clinic and Professor Lisa Davis’s current work addressing gender-based violence during and after armed conflicts and disasters. Camille Massey, former Vice President of Global Strategies and Programs for the Council on Foreign Relations and CUNY class of ’95, will lead the Center as its Founding Executive Director.
The Sorensen Center will deepen students’ international experience and training through global summer internship placements and seminars led by Scholars-in- Residence. Justice Richard Goldstone, former Justice on the South African Constitutional Court and the first Chief Prosecutor for the International Tribunals for Yugoslavia and Rwanda, is currently at CUNY as the Center’s inaugural Scholar-in-Residence.
At the Center’s launch on Monday, former U.N. Secretary General Kofi Annan said, “I can think of no tribute to Ted Sorensen more fitting than an institution which will both challenge young minds and equip them with tools for leadership.”
Friends and colleagues remember Ted Sorensen as a writer able to distill complex ideas or arguments to their essence in a way that motived and inspired. Fitting with Sorensen’s talents and legacy, the Sorensen Center will collaborate with lawyers and institutions nationally and internationally to advance intellectual exchange and protect the rights of individuals affected by instability, conflict and repression. The Center will also host an annual retreat on communications.
More information about the Sorensen Center is available here.