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Todd Larson ’83 of World Intellectual Property Organization to give Carleton Convocation

February 6, 2010
By Mallory Monsma '11

Todd Larson (Carleton Class of 1983), Senior Counselor at the New York Coordination Office of the World Intellectual Property Organization (WIPO), will deliver Carleton College’s weekly convocation address on Friday, February 12 at 10:50 a.m. in the Skinner Memorial Chapel. A division of the United Nations, WIPO is dedicated to developing a balanced and accessible international intellectual property system and promoting the protection of intellectual property throughout the world. This event is free and open to the public.

Larson has been with the United Nations for nearly two decades, previously serving in the field with both the U.N. High Commissioner for Refugees and the U.N. Department of Peacekeeping Operations. As Senior Counselor of WIPO, Larson helps the massive U.N. effort to create international norms and standards governing intellectual property.  Today, WIPO administers 23 international treaties, provides legal and technical assistance to developing countries, and facilitates the resolution of private intellectual property disputes. Larson also educates law students about international intellectual property rights and the mandate of WIPO.

A significant part of Larson’s contribution to the international community has been his continued fight for recognition of civil unions of same-sex partners in the U.N. system.  As a pro bono legal adviser to the Federation of International Civil Servants Associations and to UNGLOBE, the gay, lesbian, and bisexual UN employee group, Larson led an eight-year battle to convince the U.N. to give the domestic partners of its employees the same rights it grants employee spouses.  His group prevailed, and now significant benefits and entitlements, including the right to be evacuated, have been granted to domestic partners of U.N. employees.

After graduating from Carleton, Larson obtained a law degree from the University of Washington, where he also earned a master’s degree in international studies. He joined the U.N. shortly after graduation, working with refugees in Indonesia and Malaysia, and in Cambodia as a legal adviser helping that country prepare its post–Khmer Rouge elections. After a brief stint as a human rights monitor in Haiti (he was quickly evacuated with the rest of the U.N. staff because of an unstable political climate), he spent a year in the former Yugoslavia as part of the U.N. peacekeeping operations staff before moving to Geneva, where most of the WIPO staff is located.

The Skinner Memorial Chapel is located on First Street between College and Winona Streets in Northfield. For more information regarding the convocation, please contact the Carleton College Office of College Relations at (507) 222-4308.