Press contact: Donna Urschel (202) 707-1639
Public contact: Robert Saladini (202) 707-2692

January 31, 2006

Celso Lafer Appointed to Countries and Cultures of the South Chair at John W. Kluge Center

Librarian of Congress James H. Billington has appointed Celso Lafer, former Brazilian minister of foreign relations, to the Chair of the Countries and Cultures of the South at the John W. Kluge Center, effective Jan.15, 2006.

Lafer recently served as chairman of the Department of Jurisprudence and General Theory of Law at the Law School of the University of São Paulo, Brazil. He was twice minister of foreign relations of Brazil, in 1992 and in 2001-2002.

In 2001, Lafer headed his country’s delegation to the World Trade Organization (WTO) meeting in Qatar that launched the Doha Development Round. Participating ministers at the meeting agreed to adopt a number of decisions clarifying the obligations of its developing country governments in regard to agriculture, subsidies, textiles and clothing, technical barriers to trade, trade-related investment measures and rules of origin.

Lafer received his Ph.D. from Cornell University and has been awarded honorary doctorates from the University of Buenos Aires and from the National University of Córdoba, Argentina. He is a member of the Permanent Court of Arbitration (The Hague), which administers arbitration, conciliation and fact-finding in disputes involving various combinations of states, private parties and intergovernmental organizations. He also is on the board of one of Brazil’s most important foundations, VITAE, in São Paulo, which has a long history of collaboration with the Hispanic Division of the Library of Congress.

Lafer was a member of the Consultative Board of the Director-General of the WTO and, in that capacity, co-wrote the Sutherland Report. He also served as WTO’s chairman of the Dispute Settlement Body in 1996 and chairman of the India-Quantitative Restrictions on Imports of Agricultural, Textiles and Industrial Products Panel in 1988. In addition, he was as ex-officio vice-chairman of the United Nations Rio Conference on Environment and Development in 1992, which attempted to help governments rethink economic development and find ways to halt the destruction of irreplaceable natural resources and pollution of the planet.

Among his many publications are: "A identidade internacional do Brasil e a política externa brasileira: - passado, presente, futuro" ("Brazil’s International Identity and Brazilian Foreign Policy: Past, Present and Future") (2001); "Comércio, desarmamento, direitos, humanos - reflexões sobre uma experiência diplomática" ("Trade, Disarmament, Human Rights: Reflections of a Diplomat) (1999); and "A reconstrução dos direitos humanos (um diálogo com o pensamento de Hannah Arendt) ("Reconstructing Human Rights: A Dialogue with Hannah Arendt’s Ideas") (1998).

Through a generous endowment from John W. Kluge, the Library of Congress established the Kluge Center in 2000 to bring together the world’s best thinkers to stimulate, energize and distill wisdom from the Library’s rich resources and to interact with policymakers in Washington. For information about the fellowships, grants and programs offered by the Kluge Center, visit

# # #

PR 06-032
ISSN 0731-3527

Back to top