Alain Destexhe, 2001-02 Weissberg Chair
Senator Alain Destexhe, first deputy chairman of the Belgian Senate’s Committee of Foreign Affairs, held the Marvin Weissberg Chair in International Studies at Beloit in 2002.
Senator Destexhe trained as a physician, then completed graduate studies at the Paris Institute of Political Studies. In the early 1990s, he was secretary-general of Médecins Sans Frontières (Doctors Without Borders) and later was president of the International Crisis Group in Brussels. He has published extensively on international humanitarian issues—including his book Rwanda and Genocide in the 20th Century—and has served as an international observer during several elections in Asia, Central America, and Europe. He was initiator and then secretary of the Belgian Senate Special Committee of Inquiry into the Genocide in Rwanda.
Two high-profile events punctuated Mr. Destexhe's visit, including the 2002 Marvin Weissberg Lecture, "Politics and Humanitarian Aid in Conflict Situations," and a panel discussion titled "Genocide and Intervention: A Retrospective on Rwanda." The panel discussion featured leading American experts on the subject, including Samantha Power of Harvard University's Carr Center for Human Rights and Alison Des Forges, senior advisor to the African division of Human Rights Watch.
Mr. Destexhe also attended documentary film screenings about the Rwandan genocide, visited numerous classes, held formal and informal discussions with faculty, students, and members of the community, and participated in interviews on the College radio station and with reporters from the student newspaper. Especially popular with students, Mr. Destexhe found time in his busy schedule to attend dinners at several special-interest houses and to meet with students interested in careers in diplomatic service.
Alain Destexhe was invited to return to campus in May to address the class of 2005 at Commencement. In addition to addressing the graduates, Dr. Destexhe received an honorary Doctor of Humane Letters degree from Beloit College. In his speech he emphasized the critical role of justice as both a moral imperative and a political necessity in international affairs and urged students to work for international justice and decency.