John Shattuck – USA

Mr. Shattuck is a 1970 graduate of Yale Law School. He has received honorary degrees from the University of Rhode Island, Kenyon College, the University of Western Bohemia in the Czech Republic, and the John Jay College of Criminal Justice at the City University of New York. He received his BA magna cum laude and Phi Beta Kappa from Yale University in 1965 and an MA with First Class Honors in law from Cambridge University in 1967. (Read more on JFKlibrary).

John Shattuck – USA

Chief Executive Officer of the John F. Kennedy Library Foundation.

Short bio.

Paul Kirk, in an introduction speak in December 2003 about John Shattuck: In keeping with the ideals that were at the heart of the presidency of John F. Kennedy, we focus this evening on the topic of freedom and human rights.

Within minutes of accepting the oath of office, President Kennedy told the world that his generation and his administration was “unwilling to witness or permit the slow undoing of those human rights to which this nation has always been committed and to which we are committed today at home and around the world.”

In his book Freedom on Fire: Human Rights Wars and America’s Response, John Shattuck, Chief Human Rights Official of the Clinton administration, analyzes our country’s response to more recent attempts to advance and protect human rights around the globe. During President Clinton’s term in office, John was at the heart of the action, confronting Slobodan Milosevic in Belgrade, establishing the International Criminal Tribunals for the former Yugoslavia, restoring a democratically-elect government to Haiti, and pressing for the release of political prisoners in Cuba.

In his book, John shares his insights on where the Clinton administration succeeded, but he also records his frustrations with the internal struggles that defined United States policy at that time. Importantly, as we look to the future, John also sets out criteria for when the United States should or should not intervene militarily in the affairs of other nations, and he offers an important analysis on whether current United States policy fits those criteria.

John Shattuck’s career spans nearly three decades in government service and in service to the nonprofit sector. He was nominated by President Clinton and confirmed by the United States Senate, served first as Assistant Secretary of State for Democracy, Human Rights and Labor, and later as US Ambassador to the Czech Republic. Before entering government service, John was at Harvard University, where he held the position of Vice President for Government, Community and Public Affairs. He began his career at the American Civil Liberties Union, where he was Executive Director for the ACLU in Washington, DC. (Read more on Human Rights Wars and America’s Response in JFKlibrary & Museum).

In 1993, he was nominated by President Clinton and confirmed by the U.S. Senate as Assistant Secretary of State for Democracy, Human Rights and Labor. While serving in this position, Mr. Shattuck worked to end the war in Bosnia and negotiate the Dayton Peace Agreement; establish the International Criminal Tribunals for the former Yugoslavia and Rwanda; restore a democratically-elected government to Haiti; administer U. S. assistance to new and emerging democracies; and raise the profile of human rights in U.S. foreign policy after the end of the Cold War. For this work, he received an International Human Rights Award from the United Nations Association of Boston in 1998. Mr. Shattuck is also the author of Freedom on Fire: Human Rights Wars and America’s Response, published by Harvard University Press in 2003 and in paperback in 2005. In its review of the book The New York Times noted that “the reader is left admiring Shattuck’s willingness to fight for his ideals.”

In 1998, Mr. Shattuck was nominated by President Clinton and confirmed by the Senate to serve as U.S. Ambassador to the Czech Republic, a pivotal Central European country that is undergoing a challenging transition from communism to democracy. Ambassador Shattuck’s work included helping the Czechs become new members of NATO and participants in Balkan peacekeeping, supporting Czech teachers and innovative civic-education programs in the country’s public schools, and developing programs to assist in overhauling the legal system and building the rule of law in the Czech Republic. In 2000, he received the Ambassador’s Award from the American Bar Association Central and East European Law Initiative.

Before entering government service, Mr. Shattuck was at Harvard University, where he held the position of vice president for government, community and public affairs from 1984 to 1993 under Presidents Derek Bok and Neil Rudenstine. He also lectured on civil liberties at the Harvard Law School and the Kennedy School of Government. A founder of the Cambridge Partnership for Public Education, Mr. Shattuck worked to expand Harvard’s role in assisting the Cambridge and Boston public schools, including the creation of a new program of fellowships for Cambridge and Boston teachers at the Harvard Graduate School of Education. He was also active in expanding Harvard’s public and community service programs involving students and faculty members. Mr. Shattuck received a Distinguished Service to Public Education Award in 1990 from the Massachusetts Board of Education, and a Yale Law School Public Service Award in 1988.

Mr. Shattuck’s public service career began at the American Civil Liberties Union, where he was Executive Director of the ACLU Washington office and national staff counsel from 1971 to 1984. He was involved in all major civil-rights and civil-liberties issues during the Nixon, Ford, Carter, and Reagan administrations, including the defense of federal civil-rights legislation, protection of the federal courts against congressional efforts to limit their jurisdiction, and legislative expansion of the rights of women. During and after the Watergate crisis, he handled a number of prominent court cases on behalf of people who had been the targets of illegal political surveillance and wiretapping by the Nixon White House. He received a Roger Baldwin Award in 1984 for his national contribution to civil liberties.


globetrotter interview;

Amnesty International USA;

His statement in 1997;

physicians for human rights.

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