Hiram Chodosh, a key player in efforts to establish just legal systems and effective governments in Iraq and many other countries throughout the Middle East and Asia and an advocate for mediation as a method of resolving disputes, has been named the recipient of the 2011 Gandhi Peace Award.
The Award will be presented at the Gandhi Birthday Celebration on October 2 at 4:00 p.m. in Salt Lake City’s Jordan Park, 1060 South 900 West.
Chodosh, dean of the University of Utah S.J. Quinney College of Law, is considered one of the world’s leading experts on repairing broken judicial systems in countries throughout the world. His commitment to global justice goes far beyond his groundbreaking scholarship. He has established pioneering projects in Iraq and Afghanistan to help peacefully move those nations toward stable, democratic governments.
“When I was 16 or 17 years old, I read everything I could about Gandhi,” Chodosh said. “His influence on me has been profound; Gandhi’s early commitment to consensual settlement and non-violence inspires much of my work to this day.”
“Hiram Chodosh is the very embodiment of the Gandhian ethos,” says Peter Schuck, Simeon E. Baldwin Professor of Law at Yale Law School. “A gentle but passionate reformer, Dean Chodosh leads by example, persuasion, and precept, not by aggressive pushing and pulling. This has been the case with his academic teaching and scholarship, his longstanding campaigns for judicial and anti-corruption reforms in the Mideast and in Asia, and his leadership of several educational institutions. In each of these contexts, Chodosh exemplifies the Gandhian virtues: moral clarity, leadership by example, and visionary ideas for advancing justice, and a demand for the social integration of those who have been excluded or forgotten.”
As founder and director of Global Justice Project, Chodosh has put his scholarly ideas into practice. For the Iraq Project, which was supported by two U.S. State Department grants, he assembled more than 100 experts, dozens of law professors and legal scholars from 20 different countries, and students who worked on specific project-related issues. Some 20 specialists were deployed to Baghdad.
Over a period of two years, this team reviewed the Iraqi constitution, criminal procedure code, and election law. Project experts sat on the Iraqi constitutional review committee and on the elections committee and worked closely with the Iraqi Higher Judicial Council and with senior Iraqi judges and law professors.
Chodosh emphasized the importance of Iraqis filling leadership roles in the project’s work. Encouraging Iraqi legislators, ministers and judges to set the agenda produced effective partnerships among the Iraqis, U.S. government and civilian experts and leaders of the United Nations mission in Baghdad.
The project’s success is remarkable: it has resulted in proposed revisions of the Iraqi constitution and reform of the electoral law and a full revamping of the criminal procedure code.
Chodosh is also at the forefront of efforts to advance mediation as a method of resolving disputes worldwide and particularly in India where the justice system is notoriously slow. As a Fulbright Senior Scholar in India, Chodosh organized workshops and conferences on mediation, and he continues to advise several mediation centers, from Ahmedebad to New Delhi, dedicated to promoting mediation.
Recently, the Indian Supreme Court officially recognized the efficacy of mediation and is sending many of its cases to teams of lawyers who have worked alongside Chodosh to develop new forms of mediation process that are well-suited to India’s social conditions and values.
“Gandhi,” says Chodosh, “is at the center, in many ways, of our mediation project. My colleagues in India work to realize his legacy in bringing justice to the society, and I dedicate this award to all the amazing work they are doing.”
A 1990 graduate of Yale Law School, Chodosh received a Bachelor of Arts degree, with honors, in history from Wesleyan University in 1985. Before becoming the dean of the U’s College of Law, in 2006, he was professor of law and associate dean for academic affairs at Case Western Reserve University in Cleveland, Ohio. He joined Case Western in 1993 after three years in private law practice with an international firm in New York City.