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Former Dean of Seton Hall Law School Appointed Advisor to the Holy See Permanent Observer Mission to the United Nations

Professor Elizabeth Defeis Named Advisor to the UN Mission of the Holy See, the Supreme Authority and Central Government of the Roman Catholic Church

Professor_Elizabeth_Defeis_1Elizabeth Defeis, Professor of Law and former Dean of Seton Hall University School of Law (pictured), was appointed Advisor to the Holy See’s Permanent Observer Mission to the United Nations. In its Mission to the UN, the Holy See communicates the centuries’ experience of the Catholic Church to humanity, to assist the UN in its realization of peace justice, human dignity, and humanitarian cooperation and assistance. The term “Holy See” refers to the supreme authority and central government of the Roman Catholic Church. As such, the Holy See is an institution which, under international law and in practice, has a legal personality that allows it to enter into treaties as the juridical equal of a State and to send and receive diplomatic representatives. The Holy See Mission to the United Nations participates in all specialized agencies of the UN as well as sessions of the General Assembly, Committees and United Nations Conferences and International Agreements. Currently, the Holy See maintains full diplomatic relations with one hundred and seventy-seven countries.

Professor Defeis holds a renowned expertise in matters of international peacekeeping and human rights and is expected to have her greatest impact in these areas.

Considering her appointment, Professor Defeis said, “I am honored to serve the Holy See in its Mission to the U.N., and deeply appreciate the opportunity to work towards fostering the common good through the international rule of law. The Holy See advocates for the promotion of human rights and the dignity of peoples throughout the world, regardless of creed or country. I am humbled by the opportunity to join them in doing so.”

Professor Defeis teaches in the areas of International Law, International Human Rights, International Criminal Law, European Union Law and United States Constitutional Law. Through Fulbright Scholarships and the Speakers Program of the U.S. State Department she has lectured at various universities including those in Russia, Iran, India, Bangladesh, Italy, Egypt, Kenya and Armenia. She has also participated in fact finding missions in Gaza and the West Bank, Armenia and Moldova and in numerous international conferences including the UN Conference on Women in Beijing, China and the UN Conference on Human Rights in Vienna, Austria. She is the recipient of numerous awards including a Ford Foundation Fellowship, and a Reginald Heber Smith Fellowship.

Dean of Seton Hall Law School Patrick E. Hobbs noted, “The choice of Elizabeth Defeis for UN Advisor of the Holy See Mission is, indeed, fitting. She brings to the table an international legal acumen surpassed only by her respect for human rights and her love of the law. She has well taught International Law to generations of attorneys here at Seton Hall Law, and I can assure you the U.N. will be better for her presence.”

Seton Hall University School of Law, New Jersey's only private law school and a leading law school in the New York metropolitan area, is dedicated to preparing students for the practice of law through excellence in scholarship and teaching, with a strong focus on clinical education. Founded in 1951, Seton Hall Law School is located in Newark and offers both day and evening degree programs. For more information visit


Michael J. Ricciardelli, J.D.
Legal Media Officer
Office: 973-642-8823
Cell: 908-447-3034
Email: [email protected]

Janet LeMonnier
Executive Director, Communications
Office: 973-642-8583
Cell: 973-985-3165
Email: [email protected]

November 02, 2011