ISF Speaker Spotlight: Dr. Paolo Carozza


The International Solidarity Forum (ISF) is one of WYA’s most awaited training events. It brings together certified members from around the world to discuss and listen to experts on a relevant issue before negotiating an outcome document that will articulate WYA’s views on the topic. The theme of the 16th edition of the ISF has recently been revealed as “Good Governance and Human Flourishing”.

With a month to go, we countdown towards the upcoming ISF with another Speaker Spotlight. Here, we feature the most memorable speakers who our members have had the great fortune to meet and hear from as they spoke about their field of expertise in relation to the past years’ themes. You may read more about our first feature on Dr. William Breitbart here.

Here we revisit a talk shared by Dr. Paolo Carozza on “Human Dignity as a Foundation for Human Rights” during ISF 2009. The theme for that year was “Dignity and the Human Person: Foundation of a Rights System” wherein 44 selected WYA members drafted the Declaration on the Philosophy of Human Rights.

Dr. Paolo Carozza is a Harvard-educated American legal scholar with expertise in international law, comparative law, human rights law, and law and development. He has been on the faculty at Notre Dame Law School since 1996, where he directs the J.S.D. program in International Human Rights Law and is the Director of the Kellogg Institute for International Studies. He previously served as an Associate Dean and the Director of the Center for Civil and Human Rights. His work, “Latin America and the International Human Rights Project” is included in Chapter 7 of WYA’s Certified Training Program. Read on to learn more about his talk.


“People will assert “Well, this is my human right.” When you could be talking about completely different claims.” Carozza opened his talk with a common conversation young people are still confronted with today: the disparity of how human rights are defined by different kinds of groups.

Carozza further shares that “what is happening is not merely a clash of ideology, but a clash of understandable of human desires….It is not merely saying one’s understanding of human rights is better than the other and will therefore, trump yours.” He then draws back to how this is related to the heart of the work of World Youth Alliance on how one should understand first what is authentically human.

Throughout his insightful talk, Carozza poses the question of how then can we have a meaningful dialogue with another person that will allow us to truly convey the demands of human dignity and justice. He shares that the first part of the answer involves how the concept of human dignity arrived in history.

The audience was fortunate to learn about how the first expression of the world on human rights drew all the way back in the 16th century in the encounter between Spain and the New World. It was during their experience with injustice during their conquest to colonize that the rights of the indigenous people came into discussion. The great figures in the school of Salamanca used Thomas Aquinas’ writings on the natural law to defend that the natives indeed have human rights and should not be regarded as slaves.

Carozza shares that this first moment of recognition was born out of two things: The radical cross country encounter of people and the presence of tremendous injustice with the great desire to respond to it. As Carozza mentions other examples in history, he reinforces the point that “it’s always useful to go back to the beginning since the genesis of things gives fidelity to what comes afterwards.”

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You still have time to meet and listen from experts like Dr. Carozza. Don’t miss your chance to apply before applications close on Feb 22, 2019 for delegates that require a US visa. Apply here!

To listen to Dr. Carozza’s full talk, you may visit the official ISF page here and access it in ISF Through the Years tab.


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