William Schulz

William Schulz


* Former executive director of Amnesty International
* Served on the boards of People for the American Way Planned Parenthood, & Americans United for the Separation of Church and State
* Senior fellow at the Carr Center for Human Rights Policy (at Harvard)

Dr. William F. Schulz was the executive director of Amnesty International (USA) from March 1994 until January 2006, when he was succeeded by Larry Cox. Schulz is an ordained Unitarian Universalist minister who joined Amnesty International after serving for fifteen years with the Unitarian Universalist Association of Congregations (UUA), of which he was the president from 1985-1993. A graduate of Oberlin College, Schulz holds a Masters Degree in philosophy from the University of Chicago and a Doctor of Ministry degree from Meadville/Lombard Theological School. He lives in Long Island, New York with his wife, the Reverend Beth Graham, who is also a Unitarian Universalist minister. Dr. Schulz has two grown children from a previous marriage.

Throughout his career, Schulz has been an outspoken opponent of capital punishment and a strong supporter of leftwing feminist, gay rights, and racial justice agendas. He has organized and participated in many demonstrations related to these causes, and has written extensively about them. He has served on the boards of Americans United for the Separation of Church and State, the Communitarian Network, People for the American Way, and the Planned Parenthood Federation of America. He is widely cited as an authority on human rights issues; he has made frequent appearances on major radio and television news and interview programs, and is often quoted in such publications as the Christian Science Monitor, The Nation, The National Interest, the New York Review of Books, The New York Times, Parade, and the Washington Post. A sought-after public speaker, Schulz has lectured at numerous universities, and in 1993 he taught a seminar on the role of religion in international conflict at Harvard University’s John F. Kennedy School of Government.

Schulz maintains that in order to effectively fight terrorism, the United States must strive to improve the social and economic conditions of Muslim and Arab populations. In February 2004 he delivered a speech called “Tainted Legacy: The Ruin of Human Rights” to students at Georgetown University. He said that if the U.S. wishes to curtail the anti-American sentiment that pervades the populations of many nations around the world, it should work to rectify its own shortcomings as a guarantor of human rights. “Every time we violate rights here at home,” he asserted, “we make it harder for moderate Muslims, to say nothing of our European allies, to stand with us.” He gave several examples of what he considered to be American human rights violations, including what he characterized as the poor treatment of prisoners (from the War on Terror) at Guantanamo Bay. According to Schulz, the U.S. is violating the Geneva Convention by “refusing to allow a ‘competent tribunal’ to determine whether prisoners at Guantanamo Bay are ‘prisoners of war’ or, as the government unilaterally and arbitrarily contends, ‘unlawful combatants.’”

Schulz is the author of Tainted Legacy: 9/11 and the Ruin of Human Rights. In this book, he asserts that the U.S. government, while prosecuting the War on Terror, has been guilty of violating human rights in a manner usually associated with totalitarian regimes; he condemns secret tribunals, the suspension of habeas corpus, and what he deems the abusive interrogations of suspects. “One of Osama bin Laden’s goals,” writes Schulz, “is to destroy the solidarity of the international community and undermine the norms and standards that have sustained that community since the end of World War II. The great irony of the post-9/11 world is that, when it comes to human rights, the United States has been doing his work for him.”

Schulz has also authored the book In Our Own Best Interest: How Defending Human Rights Benefits Us All.

Schulz is currently a senior fellow at the Carr Center for Human Rights Policy at Harvard’s Kennedy School of Government.

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