Aharon Barak, the retired president of the Supreme Court of Israel, will discuss social justice at the John Sloan Dickey Center for International Understanding at 4:30 p.m. on Monday, Sept. 28, in the Filene Auditorium at Moore Hall.
The event is free and open to the public. His talk is titled “Human Dignity: A Constitutional Value and Constitutional Right.”
Among jurists of the last half-century, few have achieved the renown of Barak. Before joining Israel’s Supreme Court in 1978, he served as attorney general of Israel and as legal adviser for the Israeli delegation that negotiated the Camp David Accords, which established peace between Israel and Egypt. President Jimmy Carter was reportedly so impressed by Barak that he jokingly offered him a seat on the U.S. Supreme Court. In 1995, Barak was appointed president of the Israeli high court, a position he held until 2006.
“During nearly 20 years in government and the policy community in Washington, I was fortunate to know many leading legal scholars and practitioners,” says Dickey Center Director Daniel Benjamin. “More than a few considered Aharon Barak to be among the very greatest jurists of our era. He has a towering legacy, not only in Israel but in legal thinking in countries around the world.”
Barak was instrumental in engineering what has been called Israel’s constitutional revolution, which involved the parliamentary adoption of Israel’s Basic Laws and their interpretation by the Supreme Court to guarantee many of Israelis’ fundamental rights and establish the powers of the Israeli judiciary. A champion of human rights, Barak became internationally known for his rulings on such charged issues as torture, targeted killings, and Palestinians’ rights. U.S. Supreme Court Justice Elena Kagan said Barak “is the judge or justice in my lifetime whom, I think, best represents and has best advanced the values of democracy and human rights, of the rule of law and of justice.”
A visiting professor at Yale Law School, Barak will deliver the Rabbi Marshall Meyer Great Issues Lecture on Social Justice at Dartmouth. He will discuss the origins of the notion of human dignity, tracing the concept through classical antiquity, the great world religions and philosophy as well as its incorporation into modern constitutional law. He will also address a range of contemporary issues involving human dignity and questions of law.