Osgoode holds 2006 Wallenberg symposium at NYU School of Law

Many of the world’s top authorities on international human rights law will gather in New York City on Thursday and Friday for the Raoul Wallenberg International Human Rights Symposium. This year’s symposium, organized by Osgoode Hall Law School at York University, is being held at the New York University School of Law and will focus on the balance between civil liberties and public security at a time of terrorist threats domestically and internationally.


Above: From left, Brenda Hale, Irwin Cotler and Beverley McLachlin are keynote speakers at this year’s Wallenberg symposium

“This is the leading forum for sustained and serious debate on human rights issues in the world today,” said Patrick Monahan, dean of Osgoode and co-chair of this year’s conference along with Neil Finkelstein of Blake, Cassels & Graydon LLP. “It comes at a time of enormous public security and human rights challenges in both North America and Western Europe,” Monahan added, referring to the destruction of the World Trade Centre in New York City on Sept. 11, 2001, the Madrid train bombing in March, 2004 and the London bus and Underground bombings of July, 2005.


The symposium, which was held in Osgoode’s Moot Court last year (see Jan. 19, 2005 issue of YFile), is being held at the NYU School of Law’s campus in Greenwich Village. Osgoode and NYU are partners in a joint four-year juris doctor-bachelor of laws degree program that will see its first students in September (see the Jan. 27, 2005 issue of YFile).

The keynote speakers at this year’s symposium are Brenda Hale, a member of Britain’s House of Lords, Irwin Cotler, justice minister and attorney general of Canada, and Beverley McLachlin, chief justice of the Supreme Court of Canada.

Allan Rock, Canada’s permanent representative to the United Nations in New York, will speak on “International Institutions and Human Rights”, in a session introduced by York President & Vice-Chancellor Lorna R. Marsden.

Muneer Ahmad, professor at American University’s Washington College of Law, will join Finkelstein and Peter Hogg, professor emeritus and former Osgoode dean, in the session, “Issues Related to Preventative Detention and Removal”. Ahmad is co-counsel for Omar Khadr, the Canadian teenager currently being held in the US prison camp at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, where he has been in custody since the age of 15.

Bob Rae, former premier of Ontario and now a partner at Goodmans LLP, will speak along with Mark Berlin, national executive director of the Outreach and Partnerships initiative of Canada’s Department of Justice, and Ruti Teitel, Ernst C. Stiefel professor of comparative law at New York Law School, in the session titled, “Constitution-Making, Terrorism and National Security in Transitions to Democracy.”

Tal Becker, director of the International Law Department in Israel’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs, and Peter M. Leitner, a professor at George Mason University and president of the Higgins Counter Terrorism Research Center as well as the Washington Center for Peace and Justice, will join Dinah PoKempner, general counsel for the independent, non-governmental organization Human Rights Watch, in the session “State Responsiblity for Terrorist Activity”.

Raoul WallenbergOther York participants at the symposium include Irving Abella, professor of history in York’s Faculty of Arts, who will moderate a panel discussion titled “Human Rights, Law and Security in the Contemporary World”, which includes Osgoode Professor Obiora Chinendu Okafor.

Right: Raoul Wallenberg

The Raoul Wallenberg International Human Rights Symposium is named after the Swedish humanitarian who saved more than 100,000 Hungarian Jews from Nazi death camps during the Second World War before he was arrested by the Soviets in 1945 and not heard from again. Wallenberg’s fate is still an issue of debate.

For more information and a copy of the program visit Osgoode’s Wallenberg Symposium Web site.