In 1994, over the course of just 100 days, 20 percent of the Rwandan country’s total population was wiped out in a genocidal mass slaughter of an estimated 800,000 people.
An International Criminal tribunal for Rwanda commenced later that same horrific year and continues its work today in an effort to bring to justice those responsible for the killings. Hassan Bubacar Jallow, lead prosecutor in the Rwanda war-crime trials, will be visiting Cedar City this February 7 and 8 as the keynote speaker for Southern Utah University’s annual Global Engagement Conference.
The conference, which is free and open to the public, seeks to bring world-renowned leaders on globally themed topics to SUU in order to help broaden the perspectives and world knowledge of students, faculty, staff and local community members.
Jallow’s experience and expertise fit perfectly with this year’s conference theme, “Socio-economic Development in Africa: Challenges & Opportunities.” His keynote address will be given at 1 p.m. on Friday, February 8, in the Great Hall of SUU’s Hunter Conference Center. All are invited to attend.
For the past nine years, Jallow has served as the United-Nations-appointed Chief Prosecutor of the International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda (ICTR). Before that, he served as one of the drafters of the African Charter on Human and People’s Rights, worked as under secretary general for the United Nations, and as a judge of the Appeals Chamber of the Special Court for Sierra Leone. United Nations Secretary-General Kofi Annan personally selected Jallow to carry out a judicial evaluation of the ICTR, as well as the Criminal Tribunal for Yugoslavia.
Jallow’s accomplishments are especially impressive considering his humble background. He grew up in a small village in The Gambia where the literacy rate was only 10 percent, but had a passion for learning from an early age. Before he was enrolled, he would sit outside the classroom at the local primary school to listen and try to write what the class was learning. When his older brother began high school at one of only two such schools in the entire country, Jallow would read and study the books his brother brought home. At that time, there was no electricity in his village, so he read by candlelight, hurricane lamps and firelight.
While in Cedar City, Jallow will participate in several conference-related events. In addition to giving the keynote speech on February 8, he will participate in a question-and-answer session on February 7 in the Sharwan Smith Student Center Theater, following an 11:30 a.m. showing of the movie "Hotel Rwanda." The movie, which documents the Rwandan genocide, will show again that night at 7 p.m. in the Student Center Church Auditorium.
All Global Engagement Conference events will be held on the SUU campus, and all are free and open to the public. In addition to Jallow, the conference will feature presenters from diverse parts of the world with expertise in various African-related topics. An agenda outlining the events and presentations is available online at suu.edu/globalconference.