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The Program in International Human Rights at the Indiana University School of Law — Indianapolis has been awarded “special consultative status” by the United Nations. The designation amounts to an endorsement of the program’s expertise in international human rights issues, said the program’s founding director, George Edwards. “This is the equivalent of the U.N. telling the [program], ‘We have vetted your organization extensively and have determined that you and your members possess special expertise. We trust you and your expertise.” Edwards said. “The U.N. is telling us we can freely provide them with research, position papers, reports and briefs in written form. We can also participate by making speeches or interventions on the floor at UN proceedings.” The status will also give the program and Indiana law students more access to U.N. facilities. The U.N. confirmed the designation on its Web site. Approximately 2,000 organizations in 200 countries enjoy the special consultative status. The program at Indianapolis applied for that status in 2006, and the application was under review for the past five years. In May, program manager Perfecto “Boyet” Caparas appeared before the U.N.’s Committee on Non-Governmental Organizations to answer a last round of questions about the program. That committee then approved the designation. As part of the application process, the program highlighted the many human rights projects it has undertaken since its founding in 1997. It submitted numerous “shadow reports” to the United Nations, researching and detailing human rights violations in a number of countries. Caparas and law students have traveled to New York and Geneva to present their findings before U.N. officials. The designation “will enhance the prestige in the international community not only of Indiana University School of Law — Indianapolis, but of the entire I.U. system, with its nine campuses, as well,” said Caparas. “With this, we hope to see more aspiring lawyers and human rights defenders trailblazing, assuming leadership roles and making a real life impact and difference in the field of international human rights law and its broad cross-section of various other important disciplines, notably environmental protection and climate change.” Karen Sloan can be contacted at [email protected].

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