University of Pennsylvania Names Zeid Ra’ad Al Hussein as Perry World House Distinguished Global Leader-in-Residence

November 12, 2018
By Perry World House

The University of Pennsylvania has named Zeid Ra’ad Al Hussein, the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights (2014-18), the Distinguished Global Leader-in-Residence at Perry World House (PWH) for spring 2019. In addition to his residency at PWH, Penn’s global policy research institute, Al Hussein will also co-teach a class at the Penn Law School during the spring semester.

Al Hussein, a former Jordanian diplomat, served as ambassador to the United States and then the United Nations in New York before being selected as the sixth High Commissioner for Human Rights in 2014. During a tenure that saw human rights abuses in Syria, Myanmar, and elsewhere, he earned a reputation for being courageous and outspoken.  

“At a time of change around the globe, Zeid Ra’ad Al Hussein has devoted his life of public service to making the world more just and more humane,” said Penn President Amy Gutmann. “At Perry World House, Zeid will help students better understand the relationship between progress in human rights, international institutions and new technologies. At the same time he serves as an example for everyone at Penn of how knowledge and understanding across divides can be used to advance good in our world.”

Al Hussein will be the second Distinguished Global Leader-in-Residence, which is part of the Perry World House Visiting Fellows program. Like the inaugural Distinguished Global Leader-in-Residence, former Mexican President Felipe Calderón, Al Hussein will become a part of the University community in bespoke programs that put them at the middle of a vibrant interdisciplinary exchange of ideas with Penn scholars and students. These visits typically include public addresses open to the Philadelphia community, smaller panels with Penn experts and policymakers from Washington and around the world, and interactions with undergraduate and graduate students.

“In looking at what to do after leaving the United Nations, I knew I wanted to inspire and train new voices to carry on the work of promoting human rights,” said Al Hussein. “I can think of nowhere better than Perry World House and no students more dedicated to shaping the world than those I have met at the University of Pennsylvania. I look forward to arriving on campus next month.”

Perry World House brings students and faculty from across Penn’s schools and disciplines together with practitioners and policymakers from around the world to advance interdisciplinary, policy-relevant research on the world’s most urgent global affairs challenges. Al Hussein, who earned his bachelor’s degree from The Johns Hopkins University and a doctorate in history from Cambridge University, joins a Perry World House 2018-2019 class of fellows that includes nine national and international policy leaders, such as former national security advisors H.R. McMaster and Susan Rice and former U.S. Rep. Charles Dent.

“Each Perry World House fellow brings the world to Penn undergraduate and graduate students from across all of the University’s schools,” said William Burke-White, Richard Perry Professor and inaugural director of PWH. “As our second Distinguished Global Leader-in-Residence, Al Hussein will build on a conversation that began last spring when he delivered a keynote address at Penn on the 70th anniversary of the Universal Declaration on Human Rights. In this visit, he will further explore the intersections of human rights and new technologies as well as bring his expertise into the classroom, co-teaching a course with me.”

From January until May 2019, Al Hussein and Burke-White will co-teach “Current Challenges in International Human Rights” at Penn Law. The course will include a look at some of the most critical issues on the human-rights agenda. It will also present advanced law and graduate students the opportunity to learn from two seasoned policy practitioners who have served in national government and international institutions.

“We are honored to welcome Zeid Ra’ad Al Hussein to the Law School,” said Ted Ruger, Penn Law’s dean and Bernard G. Segal Professor of Law. “He brings unparalleled knowledge of the way international law affects today’s most pressing global challenges, including the protection of human rights. It is crucial that today’s law students learn how international treaties and institutions work — or sometimes do not work — both in theory and in practice. The Penn Law community will benefit tremendously from Al Hussein’s experience and expertise on these important issues.”

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