Douglass Cassel to Receive ND Faculty Award for Peace and Human Rights

Author: Kevin Allen

Douglass Cassel

Douglass Cassel, a professor of law and Notre Dame Presidential Fellow at Notre Dame Law School, has been selected to receive the 2017 Grenville Clark Award.

The University of Notre Dame presents the award annually to a faculty member or administrator whose voluntary activities serve to advance the cause of peace and human rights.

“I’m delighted, and I’m surprised, and I’m grateful to the University of Notre Dame,” Cassel said upon hearing that he was selected for the award.

Throughout his career, Cassel has devoted his energy and expertise to furthering peace and human rights in Latin America and around the world. He said he came to Notre Dame in 2005 because of the University’s commitment to peace and human rights – a commitment exemplified by the University’s former president, Rev. Theodore M. Hesburgh, C.S.C.

Coincidentally, Hesburgh established the Grenville Clark Award after receiving the Grenville Clark Prize – an honor presented every three years by the Grenville Clark Fund at Dartmouth College. Hesburgh received the Clark Prize in 1978 and donated the stipend to the Notre Dame endowment to underwrite a cash prize to be awarded each year.

“I believe that a Catholic university has an outreach mission to serve people who are suffering under armed conflict and repression,” Cassel said.

Cassel has served as a consultant for the Organization of American States and the United Nations, including as a legal adviser to the UN Commission on the Truth for El Salvador from 1992 to 1993. He has also represented victims of human-rights violations in Bolivia, Guatemala, Peru, and Venezuela in cases heard by the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights and the Inter-American Court of Human Rights.

He played a crucial role in the talks that led to Colombia’s government and the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia, or FARC, forging an agreement in 2015 to end that country’s half-century of civil war.

In March, the U.S. State Department nominated Cassel as the U.S. candidate to serve on the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights – a seven-person monitoring body of the Organization of American States. If elected to one of the commission’s three open seats in June at the annual OAS meeting in Mexico City, Cassel will serve a four-year term starting in January.

“Doug’s work on behalf of peace and human rights has advanced the rule of law and benefited a great many people all over the world,” said Nell Jessup Newton, the Joseph A. Matson Dean of Notre Dame Law School. “This is a timely award and richly deserved.”

The Grenville Clark Award and other 2017 faculty honors will be presented May 23 at the President’s Dinner for Faculty in the Joyce Center Fieldhouse.