Bartolomé de Las Casas
Bartolomé de las Casas OP was a sixteenth-century business entrepreneur in the Spanish Empire who, when confronted by the suffering of indigenous peoples, became a Dominican friar and began to campaign as an opponent of genocide in the “new world” and a vocal advocate for human rights.
His Enduring Influence
His experience and preaching profoundly influenced the nascent debates within Spain on universal human dignity. His dialogue with his brethren in Salamanca, especially Francisco de Vitoria OP, contributed to the emergence of international law.
Launching our Institute in November 2008, Professor Conor Gearty of the London School of Economics described Las Casas as the “founder” of human rights. As such he stands in a long line of Dominicans and others who have devoted their lives to the rigorous study of ethics and social justice.
Dominicans today have NGO status at the United Nations in Geneva and New York. They are also at the forefront of inter-faith conversation and pastoral engagement in divided communities in South Africa, Asia, North Africa, South America, Eastern and Western Europe, and the Middle East.