Contact: Guy Lamolinara (202) 707-9217
October 25, 1994
South Africa's Transition to Democracy Subject of Lecture in New Library Series
Gay J. McDougall, Executive Director of the International Human Rights Law Group in Washington, will deliver the first lecture in the Library's new series, "African and Middle Eastern Perspectives," on Dec. 1 at noon in the Mumford Room, sixth floor, Madison Building. The lecture is free and open to the public.
The lecture, sponsored by the African and Middle Eastern Division, will focus on "South Africa's Transition to Democracy: The Unfinished Work." Other topics in the new series of special programs will range from the economy and politics to historical and cultural events in Africa and the Middle East.
Ms. McDougall, a highly respected human rights lawyer, directs the work of 40 attorneys and other professionals engaged in human rights litigation, legal support activities and advocacy in the United States and more than 80 countries. During the first half of 1994, she served as the only American among five international members of South Africa's Independent Electoral Commission, which successfully organized and administered that country's first nonracial elections.
Before assuming her current post in September, Ms. McDougall served for 14 years as Director of the Southern Africa Project of the Lawyers' Committee for Civil Rights Under Law. Under her leadership, the Project financed and helped direct the defense of thousands of political prisoners in southern Africa, supported lawyers in their challenges to apartheid laws, and helped raise the consciousness of policymakers in the U.S. Congress and other branches of government about human rights issues in the region.
Ms. McDougall has also made a major contribution to the liberation of Namibia. She founded the Commission for Independence of Namibia, a bipartisan group of 31 distinguished Americans who monitored the yearlong, U.N.-mandated process leading to independence.
Ms. McDougall frequently testifies before Congress and the United Nations on human rights issues. She was the first African American to attend Agnes Scott College, from which she transferred to Bennington College, and she earned her J.D. degree at Yale University Law School and an LL.M. degree in Public International Law at the London School of Economics and Political Science.
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