WASHINGTON (JTA) — Human rights expert William Korey, the founding director of B’nai Brith International’s U.N. office, has died.
Korey, who died Wednesday at the age of 87, long worked for international implementation of the 1948 United Nations Universal Declaration of Human Rights and the Convention on the Prevention and Punishment of the Crime of Genocide. When the latter treaty was ratified by the United States in 1988, Korey was one of the people invited to the signing at the White House by President Ronald Reagan.
Korey spent 26 years at B’nai B’rith, starting at the United Nations in 1960 and later becoming director of the B’nai B’rith’s Department of International Policy Research from 1977 through 1986. He also held teaching positions at the City College of New York, Columbia University and Yeshiva University, as well as being involved in a number of Jewish organizations.
"Bill was both a scholar and an intellectual," U.N. Reform Advocates President Harris Schoenberg, a former colleague and a friend of Korey, wrote in a letter Friday. "He was as much at home in academia as he was in Jewish organizational life, where he was an eloquent human rights advocate and spokesperson, especially on behalf of Soviet Jewry."
A memorial service for Korey will be held on Oct. 19 at the Center for Jewish History.