Professor Gordon to Speak at United Nations on Human Rights in Cambodia


David L. Dodds

Document Type

News Article

Publication Date


Campus Unit

School of Law


In connection with the opening of the General Assembly this week, University of North Dakota law professor Gregory S. Gordon, an international expert on the prosecution of war crimes and genocide and director of the Center for Human Rights and Genocide Studies, has been invited to speak at the United Nations regarding human rights in Cambodia.

The United Nations (UN) will be hosting the event titled "Ending Genocide in Cambodia: Creating a Culture of Peace & Human Rights Rooted in the Spirit of Never Again." Gordon is set to speak about legal aspects of genocide from the perspective of his research and first-hand experiences in Cambodia. The title of his presentation is "Ending Genocide through the Rule of Law: From the Extraordinary Chambers in the Courts of Cambodia to the International Criminal Court."

The event will take place at the United Nations Plaza in New York and will commemorate the twentieth anniversary of the Paris Peace Agreement that finally restored stability to Cambodia after the dark years of the Khmer Rouge, Vietnamese occupation and control and a civil war. The event is part of a series of discussions regarding the Cambodian human rights situation twenty years after the Paris Peace Agreement. Other events have taken place as part of the proceedings of the UN Human Rights Council and Cambodia's Review Session before the Committee on the Rights of the Child in Geneva. Gordon will discuss efforts to prosecute the top leadership of the Khmer Rouge in connection with the Cambodian genocide and prospects for future prosecutions of other Cambodian mass atrocity perpetrators.

Just last year, Gordon, an associate law professor at UND, traveled to Cambodia to advise international and Cambodian prosecutors gearing up for the trial of top surviving leaders of the genocidal Khmer Rouge regime at the UN-backed Extraordinary Chambers in the Courts of Cambodia (ECCC), commonly referred to as the Khmer Rouge Tribunal. The prosecutors are tasked with gaining convictions against: Nuon Chea, 84, also known as "Brother #2," Pol Pot's right-hand man and chief political strategist for the Khmer Rouge Party; Khieu Samphan, 79, the regime's head of state; Ieng Sary, 86, its Foreign Minister; and Ieng Thirith, 78, the Khmer Rouge "Minister of Social Action."

In early 2010, prosecutors at the Tribunal secured a conviction against Kaing Gueck Eav, also known as "Comrade Duch," the infamous "S-21 prison" director who oversaw the systematic torture of 15,000 prisoners and execution of 12,000. Duch, 68, was sentenced to 35 years in prison with credit for time served. The Khmer Rouge's unfathomable process of social engineering and political cleansing – regarded today as the "Cambodian holocaust" -- resulted in the death of more than 2 million Cambodians by execution, torture and starvation from 1975 to 1979.

Gregory S. Gordon:

A former war crimes prosecutor for the International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda and the U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ), where he also conducted a post-civil war justice assessment in Sierra Leone, Gordon has long been sought after by media around the world, including C-SPAN, National Public Radio, BBC World Service and Radio France Internationale. He has provided them comments and insight on past war crimes and genocide in diverse places such as Nazi-occupied Europe, Ethiopia, Congo, and the former Yugoslavia. At the request of the Ethiopian Minister of Justice, Gordon also has trained high-level federal prosecutors who worked on cases related to the Mengistu "Red Terror" atrocities of 1977-1978.

As a member of the DOJ Criminal Division's Office of Special Investigations, he also helped investigate and prosecute Nazi war criminals and modern human rights violators.

Gordon has lectured on war crimes and genocide prosecution at the U.S. Army J.A.G. School and the Harry S. Truman Presidential Museum and Library.

In addition to his numerous national and international media engagements, Gordon's scholarship on international criminal law has been published in leading international journals, such as the Columbia Journal of Transnational Law, and the Virginia Journal of International Law. He has presented his work at institutions such as Yale University, Georgetown University Law Center and Emory University in Atlanta.

Gordon earned his Bachelor of Arts degree (summa cum laude) and Juris Doctor at the University of California at Berkeley. He had been a member of the UND Law School faculty since August 2006.