This past week it was announced that the newest recipient of the Dodd Prize for International Justice and Human Rights will be the organization Physicians for Human Rights. The award has been given once every two years since 2003, and entails an in-depth and national selection process, according to the Thomas J. Dodd Center’s Website. The award is an important way to honor the work of human rights organizations around the globe and give them exposure and support that is needed now, more than ever. The award and other outreach by the Dodd Center also places UConn and Connecticut at the forefront of promoting human rights education, research and advocacy around the globe – the previous recipients being President Bill Clinton and the organization Tostan bringing high-profile attention – while honoring the legacy of Connecticut Senator Thomas Dodd, whom the center was dedicated to when opening in 1996, who was the Executive Trial Counsel in the Nuremberg War Crimes Trials.
Physicians for Human Rights’ mission is to “[use] science and medicine to stop human rights violations,” according to their website. Using research along with their skills and backgrounds as medical and health professionals, the group “[lends] significant credibility to the investigation and documentation of human rights abuses.” They have done work to expose and condemn biological warfare, torture and sexual assault. They have also trained professionals to provide medical assistance in conflict-prone regions.
The way in which Physicians for Human Rights have used their research to take actionable steps and inspire tangible change fits the spirit of the award and the Dodd Center, as both a research center and human rights institute. It also honors its history. We must remember the lessons of the past when facing human rights violations today, hold those who directly perpetrate human rights violations accountable, as well as challenge those who stayed silent as bystanders in the face such injustices.