Meet the Faculty: Winston Nagan, FRSA

Published: February 16th, 2004

Category: News Briefs

View on the Profession

“The concept of what a lawyer is has been revolutionized during our time. It used to be sufficient to be a Florida lawyer. As time went on, it became much more important to be a national lawyer. “Today, the profession is influenced by immense global forces. It doesn’t matter what field you’re in — military law, constitutional, commercial, securities or tax — it is becoming a measure of one’s competence to understand the global reach of these and other fields. In short, the legal paradigm requires competence in the local, national and global dimensions of the rule of law.”


J.S.D., Yale Law School; LL.M., M.C.L., Duke Law School; M.A. and B.A., Brasenose College, Oxford University; B.A., University of South Africa. He was an assistant professor at Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University; Valparaiso University School of Law; and DePaul University Law School. He has been visiting faculty at the University of Stellenbosch; University of Western Cape; Howard University; University of Leiden, Netherlands; Markerere University, Uganda; Monash University School of Law, Melbourne Australia; and University of Cape Town, South Africa, where he was designated honorary professor.

He joined the UF law faculty in 1975 and became an affiliate professor in UF’s Anthropology Department in 1989. He is founding director of the law school’s Institute of Human Rights and Peace Development and Summer Study Abroad Program in Cape Town, South Africa; cofounder and director, East African Journal of Peace and Human Rights; and co-founder, Makerere Human Rights and Peace Center. His senior Fulbright Scholar Awards include Monash, Australia, and University of Cape Town, South Africa, and he has been a Fulbright Scholar Awards evaluator.

Nagan has authored two books: Human Rights and Governance in Africa, and Law, Science and the Policies of Human Dignity (forthcoming 2004), and 80-plus monographs and articles, including one commissioned by the United Nations on the legal implications of imposing death sentences on political prisoners in South Africa. As head of Amnesty International, he launched a campaign to ratify human rights treaties and persuade the president of Uganda to stop 60 executions (they were stopped two weeks later). His paper, What Happened to Bosnia and Herzegovina’s Right of Self-Defense? (arguing for selfdefense) was published in the Review of the International Commission of Jurists and circulated to members of Congress and the Lady Margaret Thatcher, who then wrote a New York Times op-ed supporting its premise.

He has been a legal advisor to the Shuar Indian Nation, Ecuador; Ministry of Justice (to Ministers Dullah Omar and Dr. Penuell Maduna), Republic of South Africa; Croatian and Bosnian Governments; and Ministry of Justice/Ministry of Foreign Affairs/Department of Law, Eritrea. He drafted or co-drafted the Bill of Rights for the Shuar Indian Nation, Ecuador; The Dubrovnic Declaration on Peace and Human Rights; and Sarajevo Declaration on Peace and Human Rights. He was co-organizer of three major peace conferences during the war in the Balkans (Zagreb, Opatiah and Sarajevo). He is a fellow of the World Academy of Art and Sciences and Royal Society for the Arts; visiting fellow, Oxford University; chairman of the board, Amnesty International USA (two consecutive terms); president, Policy Sciences Center, Yale University; director, Institute for the Policy Sciences, Yale University; and secretary, International Campaign Against Racism in Sports. He is on the Board of Advisors for the Interdisciplinary Research Program into the Root Causes of Human Rights Violations; and a member of British PEN; American Society of International Law; International Third World Legal Studies Association; Association of American Law Schools; American Bar Association (International Law Section); International Defense and Aid Fund for Southern Africa; American Society for Social Philosophy and the Philosophy of Law; and South Africa Constitution Watch Commission. He was elected chair of the UF American Civilization Seminar and the Arts and Civilization Seminar and is on the African Studies Advisory Committee. He has been appointed to organize the 50th Jubilee Seminar of the International Court of Justice, Cape Town, South Africa.

What You May Not Know

Nagan is one of few professors in the state — in any field — to have been elected a visiting fellow by the dons at Brasenose College, Oxford University. He also is the only professor at UF to have been admitted as a fellow at the Royal Society for the Arts in London, whose list of fellows since 1754 include Benjamin Franklin and Charles Dickens. He is president of the Gainesville Symphony Orchestra, and his interests also include art, poetry and politics. He was an excellent sportsman in his youth, playing rugby, soccer and cricket. He enjoys fishing for Spanish mackerel and once caught a six-foot black nose shark. Nagan said he has remained a law professor because he likes the students, “I find them interesting, and several have become life long friends.”

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