Georgetown University Law Center today announced the appointment of Eric Rosenthal, Disability Rights International’s (DRI) founder and executive director, to the 2015-2016 Robert F. Drinan, S.J. Chair in Human Rights.
“This appointment recognizes Eric Rosenthal for his invaluable contributions to international human rights,” said Georgetown Law Dean William M. Treanor. “We are very pleased that it will allow the Law Center to continue Fr. Drinan’s extraordinary legacy.”
As the Drinan Chair holder, Rosenthal will teach a course during the fall semester of 2015 focused on international human rights advocacy for children and adults with disabilities – allowing J.D. and LL.M. students to benefit from his expertise as a leader in the global disability rights movement.
Rosenthal, who was featured in the spring 2013 issue of Georgetown Law magazine, is the founder and executive director of DRI, one of the world’s first and leading advocacy organizations dedicated to the protection and full inclusion of children and adults with disabilities under international human rights law.
Recognizing and protecting the human rights of persons with disabilities was the topic of a seminar paper Rosenthal wrote as a student at Georgetown Law. Since establishing DRI a year after graduation, in 1993, he has trained human rights and disability activists and provided assistance to governments and international development organizations worldwide. Rosenthal helped establish six independent disability rights organizations run by people with disabilities around the world. He has served as a consultant to the U.S. National Council on Disability, UNICEF, the World Health Organization, the UN Special Rapporteur on Torture and the UN Special Rapporteur on Disability.
In 2008, Rosenthal received the Henry A. Betts Award from the American Association of People with Disabilities for his role in helping to inspire and build support for the UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities. In 2013, he was the recipient of the Charles Bronfman Prize, which “celebrates the vision and endeavor of an individual or team under fifty years of age whose humanitarian work, combined with their Jewish values, has significantly improved the world.”
“We are delighted that Eric – an alumnus who created a very effective human rights organization to address a major gap in international law in order to protect a very vulnerable group of people – will be teaching our students next fall,” said Georgetown Law Human Rights Institute Director Andrew I. Schoenholtz.
“Fr. Drinan was my first human rights professor in law school,” said Rosenthal. “But he was much more than a law professor. He was the embodiment of what it is to be a human rights activist – someone who stands up for his values and for people who are downtrodden around the world – whatever others may think. I have always sought to live up to that standard, and I am deeply indebted to Fr. Drinan for his mentorship, friendship and support. It is a true honor to serve as a human rights professor in his name.”
Rosenthal received a B.A. from the University of Chicago and a J.D. cum laude from Georgetown Law, where he has also served as an adjunct professor, teaching courses in public interest advocacy.
The Drinan Chair was established in 2006 in honor of Professor Robert F. Drinan, S.J. Drinan was a professor at Georgetown Law from 1981 until his death in 2007, as well as a priest, scholar, lawyer, politician, activist, ethicist and one of the nation’s leading advocates for international human rights. He dedicated his life to humanitarian causes and to improving the legal profession.