Symposium examines the balance between liberty and security

York University’s Osgoode Hall Law School takes centre stage today and tomorrow as an international Who’s Who of experts on international security and human rights gathers for the 2007 Raoul Wallenberg International Human Rights Symposium.

Left: Raoul Wallenberg

The annual symposium, the third such high-profile event organized by the law school, will focus on the appropriate balance between liberty and security. As with past symposiums, the program promises thought-provoking discussion and debate on a variety of human rights issues. Included in the program are sessions on the role of culture, religion and human rights in the contemporary world; the justifications and consequences of evidence obtained by torture; an examination of the scope of a state’s right to self defence; culture, religion and human rights in the contemporary world; religious tribunals in Ontario; and, four tales of terrorism.

"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. "We have assembled a world-class roster of panelists from countries around the globe."

More than 30 speakers will deliver presentations. The keynote speakers at this year’s symposium include Irwin Cotler, the former federal justice minister and a member of Parliament; Philippe Kirsch, president of the International Criminal Court; Ontario Attorney General Michael Bryant (LLB ‘92) and Albie Sachs, justice in the Constitutional Court of South Africa.

The symposium will feature a number of other high-profile speakers, including:

  • Dorit Beinisch, president of the Supreme Court of Israel;
  • Mahmoud El-Saeed, ambassador of Egypt to Canada;
  • Philip Heymann, the James Barr Ames Professor of Law, Harvard Law School;
  • Ingrid Iremark, ambassador of Sweden to Canada;
  • Jim Judd, director, Canadian Security Intelligence Service;
  • Jason Kenney, secretary of state (multiculturalism and Canadian identity), Government of Canada;
  • John C. Major, commissioner, Commission of Inquiry into the Investigation of the Bombing of Air India Flight 182;
  • Dennis O’Connor, associate chief justice of Ontario;
  • Samuel J. Rascoff, director of Intelligence analysis, New York City Police Department; and,
  • Alexandr Torshin, deputy chairman, Council of the Federation, Federal Assembly of the Russian Federation.

The event, which coincides with Canada’s official Raoul Wallenberg Day, draws on the experience of representatives from government, academia and the law to discuss the legal and judicial principles and perspectives of human rights law. Wallenberg, a Swedish diplomat, was an outstanding humanitarian who saved more than 100,000 Hungarian Jews from Nazi death camps during the Second World War. Wallenberg was arrested in 1945 by the Soviet Red Army on suspicion that he was a spy. His fate is the subject of a continuing international debate.

Attendance is by invitation only.

Audio files of the 2006 Raoul Wallenberg Symposium have been archived on the Osgoode Hall Law School Web site and are available by clicking here.