Prof. Celso Lafer

Member of Public Standing

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Celso Lafer was born in São Paulo, Brazil, in 1941 to a Jewish family that emigrated from Lithuania at the end of the 19th century and that has been active in the industrial, cultural and political life of that country.

He holds a Bachelor in Law degree from the University of São Paulo, a Master’s and a Ph.D. in Political Science from Cornell University, Lafer if Professor emeritus of the University of São Paulo and its International Relations Institute, and Full Professor (retired since 2011) of the Law Scholl of the University of São Paulo, where he taught International Law and Legal Philosophy. During his extensive academic career, Prof. Lafer held key positions in the Law Scholl and published many books and articles that dealt with international relation and Brazilian foreign policy, international economic law, human rights and political theory. He has been, throughout the years, an important participant in the Brazilian public debate.

In public life he was twice the Brazilian Minister of Foreign Relations (1992 and 2001-2002). In 1999, he was the Brazilian Minister of Development, Industry and Trade. From 1995 to 1998 he was the Ambassador, Permanent Representative of Brazil to the WTO, the UN and related agencies in Geneva.

Currently, Prof. Lafer is President of FAPESP, the State of São Paulo Foundation for the Advancement of Research, a major agency in Brazil that finances research in all fields of knowledge. At FAPESP he has worked to reinforce and develop academic ties with universities and related agencies around the world.

Prof. Lafer has been an active member of many Brazilian cultural institutions and has been involved with Jewish affairs organizations and with the advancement of cultural and scientific connections between Brazil and Israel.

In 2003, he performed a fundamental role as amicus curiae in the important “Ellwanger case” before the Brazilian Supreme Court, in which anti-Semitism was qualified an illegal practice of racism, as in other countries and entities.

In 2002 he received the highest award for Science and Technology in Brazil, the National Order of Scientific Merit and was awarded honorary doctoral degrees from the University of Buenos Aires (2001), the National University of Cordoba, Argentina (2002), the University Três de Febrero of Argentina (2011) and the University Jean Moulin – Lyon 3 (2012). Prof. Lafer is one of the very few Brazilians who belong at the same time to both the Brazilian Academy of Science and the Brazilian Academy of Letters.