War on terror an ‘overreaction,’ says top international judge

The American-led war on terrorism is a threat to international justice and a challenge to the rule of law in the 21st century, says one of the world’s most eminent judges, reported the Toronto Star Jan. 17 in a story picked up by Canadian Press and Broadcast News. “Sept. 11 led to a major overreaction by politicians in many countries,” said Richard Goldstone of South Africa, the first chief prosecutor at the war crimes tribunals for former Yugoslavia and Rwanda. “In dictatorships their actions don’t matter, because we don’t expect any respect for human rights. But in a democracy we are handing victory to terrorists if we change our way of life and abandon human rights.”

Goldstone is one of 30 leading international law experts speaking at York’s Osgoode Hall Law School‘s Raoul Wallenberg Day International Human Rights Symposium (see story in Jan. 13 issue of YFile). The two-day symposium was opened by Justice Minister Irwin Colter, who has investigated the fate of Wallenberg, a Swedish diplomat who saved more than 100,000 Hungarian Jews from the Nazi death camps during the Second World War.

Other speakers include Yale Law School’s Dean Harold Koh; South African Constitutional Court Justice Albie Sachs, a former political prisoner; former Ontario premier Bob Rae; Canada’s UN Ambassador Allan Rock, and York Chancellor Peter Cory, a former Supreme Court justice.

United Way thanks Schulich students

The United Way of Greater Toronto has collected the largest amount of money ever in its annual fundraising campaign, thanks in part to business students at York, reported the Scarborough Mirror Jan. 16. At a gala dinner Jan. 13, the United Way gave its Spirit Awards to various individual and corporate volunteers who have contributed to the organizations’ fundraising efforts in the last year. The best New Student Campaign went to the Graduate Business Council at York’s Schulich School of Business.

Toronto’s multiculture reflected in dance talent

Toronto’s dance scene, second in volume only to New York City’s, is well supplied by a constant stream of graduates from professional training institutes, reported the Toronto Star Jan. 15. The National Ballet of Canada remains the country’s flagship dance training institute, but no lesser professionals are drawn from York University, Ryerson University and the School of Toronto Dance Theatre. The Star named Nicole Bond, a member of the York Dance Ensemble, among 10 dancers to watch in the Class of 2005. Bond started dancing at 9 at a school in North York. A year and a half with the Canadian Children’s Dance Theatre sealed her fate. “I fell in love with modern dance. It allows you to express yourself from the heart.”

Legacy of a failed Iranian revolution

The Iranian hostage crisis of 25 years ago is long over, reported the Toronto Star Jan. 15. But the events that it set in motion have had a deep impact on Iran, the West, and the way diplomacy is done in the 21st century. “The hostage crisis legitimized anti-Americanism in Iran,” said Iranian exile Saeed Rahnema, a political science professor with York’s Atkinson Faculty of Liberal & Professional Studies. “It consolidated power for the Khomeini regime and its Islamic republic. Instead of creating democracy and political freedom, it ensured that there would be repression.”

Laxer comments on Layton’s progress

James Laxer, a political science professor at York’s Atkinson Faculty of University, says the performance by federal New Democratic Party leader and York alumnus Jack Layton (MA ’72, PhD ’83) during the last election campaign helped vault the party into the spotlight. But he gives the leader mixed marks for his first few months in Parliament. “Jack has the potential but he hasn’t showed the stuff yet,” he said. “I don’t think you would look at the fall and say the NDP has staked out clear ground that the public is aware of and has kind of stamped its mark on anything and claimed that for itself.” Over the next six months, he says, the NDP must make missile defence a priority, to take advantage of the rifts in Liberal ranks on the issue and to play to a “receptive” public, especially in Ontario and Quebec. “They have to make the point that this so-called defensive system is actually the entree for a new arms race, and the reason the Americans want to install it is to give themselves the capability for first-strike capacity.”

Consider your religion when planning career, says prof

Martin Lockshin, director of the Centre for Jewish Studies at York University, says religion shouldn’t be an afterthought in career planning, reported the Toronto Star Jan. 15. While he could have stood up for his rights in a workplace that wasn’t accustomed to employees who observe the Sabbath, he opted for a career that allowed him to accommodate his religion. “My simple line would be that the seriously religious should take (their religious beliefs) into consideration when they make their career choice.”

On air

  • Paul Delaney, a senior lecturer in York’s Faculty of Science & Engineering, discussed new satellite pictures of Titan, one of Saturn’s moons, that reveal a landscape and atmosphere resembling Earth, in a CBC interview aired Jan. 16 on provincial and national radio newscasts and Newsworld.