U prof joins U.N. board on slavery

The United Nations broadened the term “slavery” to include child-labor practices.

Lacey Crisp

U.N. Secretary-General Kofi Annan has named a University Law School professor to a U.N. board of trustees.

David Weissbrodt has taught international human rights at the Law School since 1975 and said he will leave for Geneva in a few days for his first official meeting.

“I am looking forward to another opportunity to help the cause of human rights,” he said.

Weissbrodt is one of five members of the board of trustees of the United Nations Voluntary Trust Fund on Contemporary Forms of Slavery. He will be on the committee until December 2007. The group funds projects to fight slavery around the world.

“In many countries, slavery is legally abolished,” Weissbrodt said. “But it still happens.”

The United Nations has broadened the term “slavery” to include child-labor practices, he said. By being a part of the board, he said, he hopes to help the situation.

“The board is set up to receive funds to disseminate for projects to get rid of slavery,” Weissbrodt said.

He said he will be on a board that makes the decisions about where money will be allocated.

He said he thinks he was appointed to the position because he has been a member of the United Nations for the last 11 years. He also said his predecessor was his international human rights professor.

“This is an opportunity to put to work some of my ideas about how the U.N. can go about abolishing slavery,” Weissbrodt said. “The world’s been trying to get rid of slavery for about two centuries.”

He said he will be working on ways to combat problems with child labor.

Setting up schools for children who would most likely end up as child laborers and encouraging the government and employers to hire their parents instead would help solve the problem of child labor, Weissbrodt said.

He said he will bring any information he can back to the classroom.

Fred Morrison, a Law School professor, said being on the board is a huge honor for his colleague.

He said having a professor who is also part of the United Nations will be good for students, because they will get very current information and will be able to discuss controversies and problems in the world today.

“Most U.N. bodies are appointed by national governments, so there will be one representative from each nation,” Morrison said. “This appointment is different – it is appointed by the secretary-general, and it really recognizes the international respect for the person.”

While Weissbrodt prepares to be a representative to the United Nations, some University students are debating the organization’s usefulness.

Martin Andrade, a Campus Republicans officer and Minnesota Daily columnist, said he is looking forward to a debate tonight at the University to discuss the United States’ role in the United Nations. The debate is at 6 p.m. in Coffman Union’s Mississippi Room.

“The U.N. is a failure,” Andrade said. “The U.S. is the one who has to take care of things like weapons of mass destruction in Iraq and should take credit for it.”

Andrade said it doesn’t matter if University faculty members are part of the United Nations, because the international organization is not as effective as it should be.

“Maybe the anti-slavery program will work,” Andrade said. “If (University faculty members) want to waste their time working with the U.N.”

He said people have a false sense of security in the United Nations.

“People have almost a religious belief that the U.N. will promote peace and prosperity,” Andrade said. “I don’t think the U.N. is doing the job it should. The United States is doing a lot more on its own.”

Andrade said the United Nations would have to be greatly restructured to be useful.

Weissbrodt said he was unaware of tonight’s debate but that it is good when students discuss matters such as the United Nations.