Our History

Since 1997, we have held global conferences on emerging human rights and humanitarian issues. These events not only facilitate dialogue, they are making a direct impact on human rights issues.

  • After we created the first undergraduate human rights studies program in the nation in 1998, our 1999 conference, “Education for Action,” fostered dialogue with other universities who then established their own programs.
  • In 2000, the Human Rights Committee at the University of Dayton established the Archbishop Oscar Romero Human Rights Award. The first recipient was Juan Méndez, UN Special Rapporteur on torture for his work with the Inter-American Institute of Human Rights.
  • The 2001 conference, “A Question of Conscience,” led directly to the publication of a book: Children’s Human Rights.
  • The 2003 conference, “Bring Durban to Dayton,” focused on racism and xenophobia. The result was the creation of the Welcome Dayton Plan - the area’s immigrant-friendly city initiative.
  • The 2008 Campaign to Ban Torture: American Voices for American Values, in partnership with The Center for Victims of Torture, led to University of Dayton President Daniel J. Curran becoming the first Catholic university president to sign the petition calling for an executive order to ban torture. In 2009, President Obama signed Executive Order 13491 — Ensuring Lawful Interrogations.
  • The 2009 conference, “Trafficking is Slavery,” led to the New Abolitionist Movement on campus, a student organization actively combating human trafficking and raising awareness through community presentations, lobbying efforts and victim assistance.
  • In 2010, we hosted a meeting of the Coalition of Catholic Organizations Against Human Trafficking. This led to the creation of Abolition Ohio - a dynamic, regional anti-trafficking coalition that championed the passage of a bill making trafficking a crime in Ohio. The bill was signed into law in December 2010.
  • In 2013, we hosted the inaugural Social Practice of Human Rights Conference that focused on the dramatic changes impacting the global human rights movement, the emergence of dynamic new NGOs in the global south that are resetting the human rights agenda, the importance of aligning human rights advocacy with popular movements, and the impact of U.S. policies on human dignity and rights at home and around the world.
  • In 2013, Dr. Daniel J. Curran,president of University of Dayton, announced the university’s commitment to establishing a human rights center.

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Human Rights Center

Keller Hall 455 
300 College Park 
Dayton, Ohio 45469 - 2790

937-229-3294