Soli Sorabjee, former attorney general of India, to speak Wednesday on human rights as a moral imperative

Soli Sorabjee

Soli Jehangir Sorabjee, a distinguished international jurist, attorney and human-rights advocate in whose honor Brandeis launched a new lecture series last autumn, will deliver the third talk in that series Wednesday, April 14, on the subject “Rule of Law: A Moral Imperative for South Asia and the World.”

This latest of the Soli Sorabjee Lectures in South Asian Studies will begin at 5:15 p.m. in Rapaporte Treasure Hall, Goldfarb Library. It is free and open to the public.

Sorabjee will address the differences among historians over the rule of law, which some view as an absolute good but which others see as a tool in the hands of the shrewd and wealthy. He also will analyze the relationship of the rule of law to a society’s guarantees to respect human rights and the dignity of the individual, and will explore the effects of globalization and the rise of terrorism on the commitment to rule of law.

Born in 1930 in Bombay (currently called Mumbai), Sorabjee commenced his legal practice in 1953 in Bombay High Court. In 1971, he was designated senior counsel by the Supreme Court of India. He was the attorney general of India first from 1989-90 and again from 1998-2004.

Sorabjee is a renowned human rights lawyer. He was appointed by the United Nations as a Special Rapporteur for Nigeria, in 1997, to report on the human rights situation in that country. Following this, he become a member and later chairman of the U.N. Subcommission on the Promotion and Protection of Human Rights, from 1998 to 2004. He is a member of the U.N.Subcommission on Prevention of Discrimination and Protection of Minorities since 1998. He also served as member of the Permanent Court of Arbitration at The Hague from 2000 to 2006.

A champion of freedom of speech and expression, Sorabjee has defended freedom of press in many landmark cases in the Supreme Court of India and has been instrumental in revoking censorship orders and bans on publications. He was honored with the Padma Vibhushan Award, the second-highest civilian award in India, in March 2002 for his defense of freedom of speech and the protection of human rights. He also serves as vice president of the Commonwealth Lawyers Association and as a member of the Committee on Arms Control and Disarmament Law of the International Law Association.

The Sorabjee Lecture Series seeks to explore themes of justice, broadly defined to include the interrogation of human rights, historical narratives, literary and political representations, gender and social justice, citizenship and democracy, and cross-border connections between the nations of South Asia. Its goal is to expose students at Brandeis and the larger public to scholarship being conducted in the multidisciplinary fields of South Asian Studies, both in the United States and in South Asia itself, as well as to the vast range of South Asian intellectual and artistic traditions. The series is a new program of South Asian Studies and the Brandeis-India Initiative.

The inaugural lecture was held on Nov. 16, 2009. Sugata Bose, Gardiner Professor of Oceanic History and Affairs at Harvard University, delivered a lecture entitled "Different Universalisms, Colorful Cosmopolitanisms: The Global Imagination of the Colonized."

The second lecture was held on Feb. 25, 2010. The guest was Paromita Vohra, one of India's leading documentary filmmakers. Ms. Vohra screened two of her recent films, met with students, and answered questions from the audience.

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