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The University of Texas at Austin

Three black and white photos of George Lister

About the Conference

(view video of conference proceedings)

On December 1st and 2nd, the Bernard and Audre Rapoport Center for Human Rights and Justice will host a conference on "The Life and Legacy of George Lister: Reconsidering Human Rights, Democracy and U.S. Foreign Policy." The conference will be co-sponsored by the Lozano Long Institute for Latin American Studies and the Robert S. Strauss Center for International Security and Law.

Called "Mr. Human Rights" by historian Arthur Schlesinger, George Lister served at the State Department for six tumultuous decades, from the 1940s until 2002. Lister was particularly effective at drawing attention to the cause of human rights in Latin America, serving as the Department’s first Human Rights Officer in the Latin American bureau. Lister’s papers were donated to the Benson Latin American Collection at the University of Texas in July 2005, providing the Rapoport Center an opportunity to initiate critical research and discussion on the institutionalization of human rights in U.S. foreign policy, and, more generally, on the struggle to promote human rights in Latin America.

The conference will use Lister as a launching point for exploring various themes related to human rights policy development, including the institutionalization of human rights in U.S. foreign policy decision-making, the relationship between NGOs and the State Department, and the role of mid-level bureaucrats in shaping U.S. foreign policy. As Lister was a specialist in Latin America, U.S. foreign policies towards Latin America will form the basis of a large portion of the discussion, with special emphasis on the countries where Lister was most involved. The conference will bring together a variety of people who knew George Lister well and scholars of the periods discussed.

For additional information, including press releases about the project, please visit our George Lister Resources page.