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Alumni Almanac

Joakim Dungel (1978–2011)

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Joakim Dungel '07On April 1, Joakim Dungel (LL.M. ’07), 33, died when a large group of demonstrators attacked the U.N. mission where he worked as a human rights officer in Mazar-e-Sharif, Afghanistan.

A native of Sweden, Dungel earned his bachelor of laws and an LL.M. at Gothenburg University and an additional LL.M. in international law at NYU. Colleagues say he was equally adept at writing scholarly articles and gently interviewing victims of human rights abuses. Before moving to Afghanistan in February, Joakim worked with the Special Court for Sierra Leone and in the war crimes tribunal at The Hague in respect to war crimes in Yugoslavia and Rwanda.

Dungel’s NYU Law faculty and friends remember a man who was uncommonly strong both physically and in spirit, who had a passion for peace and justice, and who knew exactly what he wanted to do with his life.

“Joakim was intrigued by human rights and the power they held to bring positive change, and he made it very clear in conversations that he wanted to go out into the world and make a difference. He certainly kept his promise, taking a succession of important jobs in the field, and finally made his way to the most difficult post of all, working for the U.N. in Afghanistan.”—Philip Alston, John Norton Pomeroy Professor of Law

“He was a very hard-working, dedicated scholar of human rights law. He was determined to extract the utmost from his academic experience at NYU. Quite apart from his studies, he was a thoroughly decent person. He was forthright and confident. And somewhat incongruously—incongruous in academics, at least—he was physically one of the strongest people I have ever met. The weight machines in the NYU gym weren’t enough for him so he would get people—me included—to lean down on the weights while he lifted them.”— Patrick Mair (LL.M. ’07)

“Joakim was so good at his job that he could have done anything, but he wanted to be the closest to the people he wanted to help. I thought he was invincible and still have difficulty realizing that he is gone.”— Céline Folsché (LL.M. ’07)

The most revealing, and now poignant, of statements is the one Dungel himself wrote in 2005 as he prepared to enter the NYU Law LL.M. program.

“Pierre Bayle said that history is ‘but a collection of continuous crimes and misfortunes of mankind.’ Sad as I am to have to agree with him, I have chosen not to stand by and watch while this history continues, because I believe people can settle their differences peacefully, rather than through violence.”

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