A high-powered gathering on human rights

From Jan. 17-18, York’s Osgoode Hall Law School will host a major international human rights symposium bringing together some of the world’s foremost international human rights law experts to discuss pressing human rights issues and to educate the next generation of law students. Law students from across Canada have received travel bursaries in order to attend the symposium.

More than 30 speakers will deliver presentations at the symposium including federal Justice Minister Irwin Cotler, who will deliver the keynote address on Jan. 17 at 9:15am. Attendance is by invitation only, but there will be a live Webcast of the event.

Other speakers include:

  • Richard Goldstone, former chief prosecutor of the UN International War Crimes Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia and Rwanda
  • Harold Koh, dean of Yale Law School
  • Bob Rae, former Premier of Ontario
  • Allan Rock, Canada’s ambassador to the United Nations
  • Albie Sachs, justice of the Constitutional Court of South Africa who is also a former political prisoner.

York University will be represented by Peter Cory, chancellor of York University and retired justice of the Supreme Court of Canada; President and Vice-Chancellor Lorna Marsden; Patrick Monahan, dean of Osgoode Hall Law School; Osgoode Professor Sharon Williams, formerly of the International Criminal Court; and Professor Irving Abella, Department of History.

Also among the participants will be five chief justices of Canadian Superior Courts, as well as prominent media representatives, including Tony Burman, editor-in-chief of the CBC (English Services Division); Edward Greenspon, editor-in-chief, The Globe and Mail; and Robert Prichard, president & chief executive officer, Torstar Corporation.

Topics for discussion will include methods of combating mass atrocity, international and national response to and prevention of human rights violations, balancing national security interests with human rights, war and terrorism, war crimes tribunals and the International Criminal Court and the role of media.

The event, coinciding with Canada’s official Raoul Wallenberg Day, will draw on the experience of participants from government, academia and the law to discuss the principles of international human rights law, in keeping with Wallenberg’s legacy. Wallenberg was an outstanding humanitarian who saved more than 100,000 Hungarian Jews from Nazi death camps during World War II.

Right: Raoul Wallenberg

The year 2005 marks important milestones for human rights. It commemorates the 60th anniversary of the end of World War II and the liberation of the Nazi death camps, as well as the 30th anniversary of the founding of the Helsinki Monitors. It is also the 20th anniversary of the date on which the equality guarantee in section 15 of the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms came into force.

A live Webcast of the symposium will be available on the Osgoode and the York Web site starting at 8.50am on Monday, Jan. 17 at http://www.yorku.ca/osgoode/wallenberg.