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For the Media

Human Rights Day: AU Experts Available to Comment

Political repression in Burundi and Egypt. A  Christian woman sentenced to death under Pakistan’s rigid blasphemy law. Human rights advocates—many of them attorneys— targeted and arrested in Iran. All are examples of human rights violations around the world.

As Human Rights Day approaches (Friday, December 10), American University faculty experts are available to provide commentary on the most pressing human rights issues of our time.

Each expert below has substantial experience with press interviews. To request an interview with one of American University’s human rights wonks, contact AU’s Communications Office at 202-885-5950 or

Julie Mertus, codirector of AU’s Ethics, Peace, and Global Affairs Program, is an expert on a broad range of human rights issues, including human rights and U.S. foreign policy, President Obama and human rights, U.S. military engagement with human rights, don't ask/don't tell, women's rights around the world, disability rights, refugee rights, and the Balkans. Her book Bait and Switch: Human Rights and U.S. Foreign Policy (Routledge, 2004; 2d, 2008) was named the 2005 Human Rights Book of the Year by the Human Rights Section of the American Political Science Association.  

Claudio Grossman, dean of AU’s Washington College of Law since 1995 and Raymond I. Geraldson Scholar for International and Humanitarian Law, is an expert on international law, human rights, and inter-American affairs. Grossman serves as chair of the United Nations Committee against Torture. Previously, Grossman was a member and served (twice) as president of the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights of the Organization of American States, where he was also special rapporteur on the rights of indigenous populations and women's rights. He is the author of numerous books and articles on international law, human rights, and the law of international organizations and recipient of the 2010 Henry W. Edgerton Civil Liberties Award from the American Civil Liberties Union of the National Capital Area in recognition of his lifetime achievements in the advancement and defense of human rights and civil liberties.  

Hadar Harris, executive director of AU’s Center for Human Rights and Humanitarian Law, is an international human rights attorney who specializes in civil and political rights, gender equality, prevention and punishment of genocide, and domestic implementation of international norms.  She can address general human rights topics, human rights issues in the United States, gender and women’s human rights issues, domestic implementation of international norms, and other numerous human rights topics.  

Jayesh Rathod, director of AU’s Immigrant Justice Clinic, is an expert on immigrants’ and migrants’  rights. Prior to joining the faculty, he was a Staff Attorney at CASA of Maryland, representing low-wage immigrant workers on employment law and immigration matters. Over the course of his career, he has worked with numerous non-governmental organizations to advance the civil and human rights of communities in the United States and abroad.  

Joseph Eldridge, university chaplain, has spent more than 25 years working in the public policy arena as an advocate and analyst on international human rights and humanitarian issues.  He can address issues related to U.S. human rights policy—especially toward Latin America.  He can also address the origins of U.S. human rights policy from a historical perspective.

Mary Gray, chair of AU’s Department of Mathematics and Statistics, has been involved with Amnesty International USA for more than 25 years, including time spent serving as the organization’s international treasurer. Gray can discuss  women’s human rights, the United Nations Declaration of human rights, human rights in the Middle East (particularly, in Iraq), and the work of Amnesty International.

Mary Eschelbach Hansen, associate professor of economics, is widely published in the fields of child welfare policy and economic history.  She can discuss issues related to the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child and its relationship to child welfare and adoption.

Adrienne Pine, assistant professor of anthropology, can discuss problems inherent in human rights discourse and why mainstream human rights organizations have failed to improve human rights conditions around the world. She can discuss human rights violations in Honduras and how the U.S. State Department and the United States Southern Command's policies in Latin America relate to human rights violations throughout the hemisphere.

Additional experts are available at American University’s searchable expert’s database.

American University is a leader in global education, enrolling a diverse student body from throughout the United States and nearly 140 countries. Located in Washington, D.C., the university provides opportunities for academic excellence, public service, and internships in the nation’s capital and around the world.