International panel to examine human rights around the globe

Dr. Gamini Keerawella, Charge d'Affaires at the Sri Lanka embassy in the United State

UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. -- Two distinguished visiting speakers from the Sri Lankan government will visit Penn State Law, the School of International Affairs, and the Rock Ethics Institute for an expert panel on the state of international human rights at this unique and challenging moment in history.

The discussion—entitled “Human Rights Around the Globe: Flourishing or Failing?” —will be held from 5:30 to 7:00 p.m. on September 13 in the Sutliff Auditorium, room 118 of the Lewis Katz Building, and will examine the status of human and civil rights around the world.

The panelists will include Dr. Deepika Udagama, Sri Lanka human rights commissioner; Dr. Gamini Keerawella, Charge d'Affaires at the Sri Lanka embassy in the United States; Penn State Law professor Shoba Wadhia, director of the Center for Immigrants’ Rights Clinic; Penn State Professor of History, Anthropology, and Religious Studies Catherine Wanner, Barry Director of the Paterno Fellows Program; Penn State Professor of Geography Lorraine Dowler; and School of International Affairs director Scott Gartner, who will moderate the discussion.

Keerawella, in addition to this position as Sri Lanka’s highest-ranking diplomat in the U.S., is a Sri Lankan academic and historian who has held faculty positions at the University of Peradeniya in Sri Lanka and the College of the Holy Cross in Massachusetts. His research focuses on peace and security in the Indian Ocean and post-colonial state-building and political processes in Sri Lanka, and he has also worked on issues of racial discrimination and xenophobia as a member of the Sri Lankan delegation to the United Nations.

Udagama, who has served as chair of Sri Lanka’s human rights commission since 2015, is a leading expert on international human rights law who played a pivotal role in introducing the study of human rights law to legal education in Sri Lanka. In addition to her role with the human rights commission, she was the founding director of the Centre for the Study of Human Rights at the University Colombo and Chair of the Department of Law at both the University of Colombo and the University of Peradeniya. She has also served on UN human rights bodies, including as Chair of the UN Voluntary Fund for Technical Cooperation in the Field of Human Rights.

The event is free and open to the public, though prior registration is requested.