Human Rights Activist to Speak on Capital Punishment

Feb. 4, 2014

BLOOMINGTON, Ill. — On Thursday Feb. 6, Illinois Wesleyan will welcome guest speaker Sandra Babcock, Northwestern law professor and international human rights advocate. She will address how the international movement against the death penalty will affect American laws in her speech titled, “Global Politics, Morality and the Declining Use of the Death Penalty.”    

The event, which is hosted by the Political Science Department and The Center for Human Rights and Social Justice, is free and open to the public and will be held at 4 p.m. in Beckman Auditorium on the lower level of The Ames Library (1 Ames Plaza, Bloomington).

“Professor Babcock’s work provides a model for the aspirations of many of our own students and their planned careers in human rights,” said Greg Shaw, IWU professor of political science who will introduce Babcock at the event.

After earning a juris doctor degree from Harvard Law School in 1991, Babcock has made a career specializing in international rights litigation, access to justice, death penalty defense and the application of international law in the United States. She served as a staff attorney at the Texas Resource Center, a public defender in Minnesota and as the director of the Mexican Foreign Ministry’s Mexican Capital Legal Assistance Program. She has argued many cases in state supreme courts, as well as in the International Court of Justice, the Inter-American Court on Human Rights, the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights and the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit.

Since joining the faculty at Northwestern in 2006, Babcock has worked with her students on diverse human rights projects. Her students have the opportunity to gain experience in inter alia, the representation of Mexican nationals on death row, representing Guantanamo detainees, solutions to prevent overcrowding in Malawian prisons, documentation for the Liberian Truth and Reconciliation Commission and advocacy for the Convention of the Rights of the Child.

Babcock has also participated in human rights fieldwork in Liberia, Malawi, South Africa and Brazil. While serving as director of the Mexican Capital Legal Assistance Program, which assists Mexican nationals facing death row in the United States, she was awarded the Aguila Azteca, the highest honor the government of Mexico bestows upon citizens of other nations.

For more information regarding the talk, contact Shaw at (309) 556-3658 or

Contact: Hannah Dhue, ’15, (309) 556-3181,