Mertus, Julie A. 1963-

views updated

MERTUS, Julie A. 1963-

PERSONAL: Born 1963. Education: Cornell University, B.S. (industrial labor relations), 1985; Charles University (Prague, Czechoslovakia), diploma, 1988; Yale Law School, J.D., 1988.

ADDRESSES: Office—Pettit College of Law, Ohio Northern College, 525 South Main St., Ada, OH 45819.

CAREER: Admitted to the Bar of the State of New Jersey, 1988, State of New York, 1989, Washington, DC, 1989, and U.S. Supreme Court, 1993; clerk to Honorable John Walker, Southern District of New York, 1988-89; American Civil Liberties Union, attorney, 1990-91; New York University, New York, NY, adjunct professor, 1991-94; Affirmative Litigation Division, State of New York, assistant corporation counsel, 1992-93; Helsinki Watch/Human Rights Watch, Helsinki, Finland, attorney, 1993-94. Consultant to Center for Reproductive Law and Policy, New York and Croatia, 1992-93; Newport Institute and Harvard Center for Policy Negotiation, Budapest, Hungary, 1994; Human Rights Institute, Beijing, China, United Nations World Conference on Women, 1995; Soros Foundation, 1994-95; Women, Law, and Development International, Washington, DC and Moscow, Russia, 1995-97; Winrock International/NIS Women's Consortium, 1996; Watson Institute for International Affairs, Brown University, 1997; Women's Commission for Refugee Women and Children, 1998; Ohio Northern University, Ada, assistant professor, 1998—. Visiting scholar and professor at universities and colleges in the United States and abroad.

MEMBER: American Bar Association, Council on Foreign Relations, Academic Council of the United Nations, American Society of International Law, Ful-bright Association, Women in Foreign Policy, Women in International Security, Law and Society.

AWARDS, HONORS: Presidential Scholar; Irving Ives Award; Daniel Alpern Award; Golden Apple Award for excellence in educational journalism; grants and fellowships from American Association of University Women, 1988, Mellon Foundation, 1988, American Civil Liberties Union, 1989-90, International Research and Exchange Program, 1994, American Council of Learned Societies, 1994, Soros Foundation/Open Society Institute, 1994-95, MacArthur Foundation, 1994-95, Newport Foundation, 1996, Ford Foundation, 1996-97, Academic Council on the United Nations/American Society of International Law, 1997, Social Science Research Council/MacArthur Foundation, 1998; Fulbright scholar, 1996.


(With Vlatka Mihelic) Open Wounds: Human Rights Abuses in Kosovo, Human Rights Watch (New York, NY), 1994.

(With others) Zenska ljudska prava: prakticna primena, illustrated by Katrin Kremmler, Devedesetcetvrta (Belgrade, Yugoslavia), 1995.

(With others) Step-by-Step: Enforcing Human Rights of Women and Girls, Human Rights Watch (Washington, DC), 1997.

(Editor, with others) The Suitcase: Refugee Voices from Bosnia and Croatia, with Contributions from over Seventy-five Refugees and Displaced People, foreword by Cornel West, University of California Press (Berkeley, CA), 1997.

(With others) Local Action/Global Change: Learning about the Human Rights of Women and Girls, UNIFEM (New York, NY), 1999.

The Gender Connection: Humanitarian Law and Policy, Watson Institute for International Affairs, Brown University (Providence, RI), 1999.

Kosovo: How Myths and Truths Started a War, University of California Press (Berkeley, CA), 1999.

From Legal Transplants to Transformative Justice: Human Rights and the Promise of Transnational Civil Society, Claus M. Halle Institute for Global Learning, Emory University (Atlanta, GA), 1999.

War's Offensive on Women: The Humanitarian Challenge in Bosnia, Kosovo, and Afghanistan, Kumarian Press (West Hartford, CT), 2000.

Bait and Switch: Human Rights and U.S. Foreign Policy ("Global Horizons" series), Routledge (New York, NY), 2004.

The United Nations and Human Rights: A Guide for a New Era ("Global Institutions" series), Routledge (New York, NY), 2005.

Contributor to works by others, including Derecho humanos de las mueres, edited by Margaret Schuler, Human Rights Watch Women's Rights Project (Washington, DC), 1997; Women and International Human Rights, edited by Kelly Askin and Dorean Koenig, Transaction Press (New York, NY), 1999; Women, Society, and Politics in Yugoslavia and the Yugoslav Successor States, edited by Sabrina P. Ramet, Penn State (University Park, PA), 1999; and The Future of International Human Rights, edited by Burns Weston and Stephen P. Marks, Kluwer (The Hague, Netherlands), 1999. Contributor to periodicals and journals, including the New York Times, Chicago Tribune, Atlanta Journal Constitution, Washington Post, Christian Science Monitor, Philadelphia Inquirer, San Francisco Chronicle, International Herald Tribune, Nation, American Journal of International Law, Socialand Legal Studies, International Journal of Refugee Law, American Journal of Gender and Law, Yale Law and Policy Review, New York University Review of International Policy and Law, and other university and law school journals.

SIDELIGHTS: Julie A. Mertus is a professor of law who teaches courses on international civil liberties, human rights, refugee policy, and gender issues. Mertus has worked as an advisor for a number of human rights organizations, including Human Rights Watch, and has learned firsthand about these issues. As a visiting professor, she has taught not only in the United States, but also in Canada, the Ukraine, and Russia. She led a workshop on women's rights at the 1994 World Conference on Women, held in Beijing, China, and worked at home for the American Civil Liberties Union's Reproductive Freedom Project.

Mertus's books include The Suitcase: Refugee Voices from Bosnia and Croatia, with Contributions from over Seventy-five Refugees and Displaced People, which she coedited with others. Most of the contributors are victims of the Bosnian war, which left nearly two million people homeless. The volume contains powerful stories, letters, poems, and stories from the survivors that raise questions about war and displacement. Most of the narratives are from females, since more than eighty percent of the refugees of the Balkan conflicts are women and children. Twenty-one photographs accompany their contributions.

Talip Kucukcan wrote in the Journal of Ethnic and Migration Studies that The Suitcase "is a living witness to a human tragedy, and as its editors note, these stories as pieces of literature and memories of witnesses will never lose their importance. This book will help people of stable countries, which did not experience such incidents in their immediate past, to understand the cost of war and raise awareness about its victims and refugees."

Linda A. Malone noted in the Houston Journal of International Law that in Kosovo: How Myths and Truths Started a War, Mertus "examines the grassroots beliefs of Kosovar Albanians and Serbians to determine how neighbors learn to hate each other to the point of pursuing war and extermination." Mertus, who worked in the region beginning in 1993, uses interviews to demonstrate how events led to the 1998 crisis. She documents that four events that occurred from 1981 to 1990 were critical to the chain of events, the details of which are not definitely known in all cases. They include the student demonstrations at the University of Pristina in 1981 that began as a small protest over housing and food and grew throughout the province, the Martinovic case that involved either the self-inflicted wounds or wounds inflicted by Albanian nationalists to a Serbian peasant, the 1987 Paracin Massacre of four soldiers, which may have been the act of one disturbed soldier or a politically motivated act by an Albanian terrorist, and the alleged poisoning of Albanian children by Serbians in 1990. Jon W. Western wrote in Political Science Quarterly that "in each case, [Mertus] demonstrates how each group came to a different interpretation of these events through a complex maze of elite-based propaganda and underlying predispositions emanating from historical, cultural, and economic experiences."

Mertus writes that "experience and myth are far more persuasive and influential than factual truth." Malone commented that Mertus "contends that the perceptions of each side are equally important to an understanding of how the crisis in Kosovo developed. The interviews she includes are compelling in demonstrating the escalating frenzy of fear, then paranoia, and ultimately hatred, these myths and truths engendered."

In War's Offensive on Women: The Humanitarian Challenge in Bosnia, Kosovo, and Afghanistan, Mertus studies why gender is important to humanitarian responses, in view of the fact that the majority of refugees are women and children. She begins by explaining that people who are forced to leave their homes but not their countries are not considered refugees, in spite of their displacement. She compares humanitarian efforts in the three regions, using field reports and interviews, and identifies gender-specific needs, particularly in view of the large number of women who flee rape and violence.

Lynne Woehrle wrote in the International Journal on World Peace that War's Offensive on Women "makes it clear that the violence of war is not limited to the experience of those who fight, nor is it finished when a peace agreement is established." The book contains not only data, but recommendations for the future, which Woehrle felt can be valuable to a number of audiences. She noted that "the greatest challenge, perhaps, is digesting the disturbing details of what humans continue to be capable of in our treatment of others. Mertus provides a persuasive account of women as not only 'civilians' but as targets of enemy strategy." Mertus proposes programs and policies that might counteract violence against women and the necessity of empowering women and girls through education and economic development, through which gender equality worldwide might be established.



Booklist, January 1, 1997, Mary Carroll, review of The Suitcase: Refugee Voices from Bosnia and Croatia, with Contributions from over Seventy-five Refugees and Displaced People, p. 814.

Canadian Journal of History, April, 2001, Arthur C. Helton, Elizabeth Colwill, review of Kosovo: How Myths and Truths Started a War, p. 160.

Houston Journal of International Law, spring, 2000, Linda A. Malone, review of Kosovo, p. 585.

International Journal on World Peace, June, 2002, Lynne Woehrle, review of War's Offensive on Women: The Humanitarian Challenge in Bosnia, Kosovo, and Afghanistan, p. 86.

Journal of Ethnic and Migration Studies, January, 1999, Talip Kucukcan, review of The Suitcase, p. 162.

Library Journal, August, 1999, Marcia L. Sprules, review of Kosovo, p. 118.

New Statesman, September 6, 1999, Richard Gott, review of Kosovo, p. 57.

Political Science Quarterly, winter, 2000, Jon W. Western, review of Kosovo, p. 638; summer, 2002, Elisabeth Jay Friedman, review of War's Offensive on Women, p. 337.

Publishers Weekly, July 19, 1999, review of Kosovo, p. 175.

Signs, spring, 2002, Wenona Giles, review of Kosovo, p. 905; summer, 2003, Ruth Jacobson, review of War's Offensive on Women, p. 1318.

Women's Review of Books, May, 1997, Erika Munk, review of The Suitcase, p. 1.


Ohio Northern University Web site, (December 6, 2004), "Julie Mertus."*