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Monday, 04 January 2016 17:57

ICJC 2015: Year in Review

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Would you like to know what we were up to in 2015? Read on...

Exciting Projects Underway

The rule of law and judicial independence have been at the heart of ICJ’s mission since its inception. We are researching best practices on judicial appointment processes in Canada and internationally in light of international norms, with a view to making concrete recommendations for improvements both in Canada and through the headquarters of ICJ in Geneva in other interested countries with ICJ Chapters around the world.

ICJC’s Quebec branch has partnered with the University of Montreal Centre for Research in Public Law to launch a new online resource, the “Observatory on national security measures”. It is a web-based resource that stores documents and follows developments related to national security measures. As it continues to grow, it will be a hub for discussion –in both of Canada’s official languages- on the risks and challenges in this area.

ICJC participated in round table discussions on the inclusion of access to justice and the rule of law in the new post-2015 sustainable development agenda, co-authored a written submission to the Minister of International Development, and hosted a panel at a Canadian Council for International Co-operation conference. With the adoption of the new and transformative 2030 Agenda this fall, ICJC looks forward to continued work in this area.

Finally, we are in the exploratory stage of developing a multi-stakeholder process of engagement to ensure Canadian corporations respect human rights in their operations abroad.

SCC statue cropped

Events Across Canada

Celebrating the Magna Carta

The year 2015 was an important one, not only for ICJC as an organization, but for jurists everywhere, as it marked the 800th Anniversary of the Magna Carta, which remains a revered document for its embodiment of the rule of law. Its legacy endures today, and it is often considered the foundation of modern democratic societies. ICJC members had the opportunity to attend two different events celebrating the Magna Carta.

First, members were invited to a private reception and viewing of the Magna Carta at the Canadian Museum of History in Gatineau, QC, featuring special guests Julia Nolan, Head of Foreign Policy of the British High Commission; the Honourable Paul Crampton, Chief Justice of the Federal Court; and Nathalie des Rosiers, Dean of the University of Ottawa Faculty of Law. The event was attended by over 80 judges, lawyers, and members of the general public.

QCCASecond, ICJC’s Quebec chapter hosted a professional development conference, held at the Quebec Court of Appeal in Montreal, on the impact of the Magna Carta today. An impressive list of speakers dealt with topics such as women’s rights, fundamental liberties, and jury trials, tying in the historic provisions of the Magna Carta with today’s pressing issues. Presenters included Chief Justice of Quebec Nicole Duval-Hesler, Senator Serge Joyal, criminal law lawyer Jean-Claude Hébert, and President of the Quebec Human Rights Commission Jacques Frémont.

Honouring the 2015 Tarnopolsky Award Winner: Louise Arbour

On November 5th, 2015, the ICJC recognized the Honourable Louise Arbour, C.C., G.O.Q. as this year’s recipient of the Walter S. Tarnopolsky award. The award ceremony took place in the intimate setting of the judges’ conference room of the Quebec Court of Appeal in Montréal. ICJC President Errol Mendes praised Madam Arbour as being a person who needs no introduction for most Canadians, given her outstanding contributions to justice and human rights in Canada and around the world. Attendees were privileged to listen to Madam Arbour candidly share her reflections on the state of human rights today and new approaches to global challenges.

Louise Arbour et al

Speaker events

ICJC co-hosted several speaker events this year, working with other organizations to host captivating talks. Our special guests were:

  • WEB NEWS Stopping IslamophobiaOSCE advisor Marwan Muhammad, on tackling Islamophobia
  • Justice Richard Mosley of the Federal Court, speaking on national security
  • Former diplomat Robert Fowler, relating the lessons he learned from being held captive by Al Qaeda
  • Ontario Court Justice Brent Knazan and lawyer Heather Neun, presenting a report on the risks faced by human rights defenders in Colombia
  • Patricia Kosseim and Daniel Caron of the Office of the Privacy Commissioner of Canada, discussing the implementation of national security legislation and implications for privacy
Fundraising Dinner Featuring New York Times bestseller Bill Browder

browder eventICJC hosted Bill Browder at a sold-out dinner event in Toronto attended by over 100 guests. His acclaimed book, “Red Notice” tells the story of his experience as an international investor in Russia, where he encountered corruption and cronyism firsthand; his lawyer was murdered for exposing corruption. Ever since, Browder has been an outspoken critic of authoritarianism in Russia, and an advocate for the rule of law and human rights. His compelling presentation was followed by a thought-provoking discussion moderated by ICJC Board member, the Hon. Ian Binnie.

Building the ICJ Canada network and ensuring sustainability

The exciting activities and events we’ve undertaken over the past year have been made possible through huge amounts of largely volunteer effort. We are focused on ensuring our organization remains active and sustainable in the long term, and are prioritizing fundraising.

We are also enthusiastic about involving the next generation of jurists in our work. We have identified representatives from law faculties across the country, and look forward to growing an engaged student network.

teaching profile crepeau 250x350 0ICJC, along with the Human Rights Research and Education Centre, and the Centre for International Policy Studies, presents François Crépeau. His talk is entitled "Facilitating Mobility, Fostering Diversity: Lessons from the Global North’s Response to Migration Challenges".

Event Date: January 18, 2016 - 11:30am - 1pm
Location: Fauteux Hall, 57 Louis-PasteurPvt., room 147B
Free. In English and French. Registration is required. Seating is limited and available on a first come, first served basis. RSVP at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..

François Crépeau is Full Professor at McGill University, where he holds the Hans & Tamar Oppenheimer Chair in Public International Law, and is Director of the Centre for Human Rights and Legal Pluralism. He is the United Nations Special Rapporteur on the Human Rights of Migrants (2011-2017): he has conducted official visits to Albania, Tunisia, Turkey, Italy, Greece, Qatar, Sri Lanka, and Malta, and has produced thematic reports on the detention of migrants, the protection of migrants’ rights at the external borders of the European Union, climate change and migration, global migration governance, labour exploitation of migrants, and the recruitment practices of foreign labour. Guest professor at the Université catholique de Louvain (2010-2019), he is a Fellow of the Royal Society of Canada, was a Fellow 2008-2011 of the Pierre Elliott Trudeau Foundation, and is an Advocatus Emeritus of the Quebec Bar Association. He has given many conferences, has published numerous articles, has written, edited or coedited ten books, and is a member of the editorial board of several learned journals.

Thursday, 26 November 2015 00:34

News from ICJC in The Advocate

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In the latest edition of The Advocate, published by the Vancouver Bar Association, Rebecca Robb, associate at Hunter Litigation Chambers, and Tim Dickson, partner at Farris, Vaughan, Wills & Murphy LLP write about ICJ Canada and our judicial appointments research project, which is spearheaded by our ICJC team in British Columbia. Read their article, and contact Rebecca <This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.> to find out how you can contribute to the project.

"Rule Of Law Is Essential To Ensuring Peaceful, Just And Inclusive Societies" by ICJC Secretary-Treasurer Robin Sully, with Jennifer Khor, Project Director International Initiatives of the Canadian Bar Association was published on the Huffington Post "Development Unplugged" blog. 

"While much has been achieved since 2000 when the UN adopted the eight Millennium Development Goals, evaluation of the MDGs has demonstrated that economic growth in itself is not an adequate measure of development or poverty reduction, especially when issues of inequality, discrimination, insecurity and abuse of basic rights prevail."

You can read more here.

QCCAAs one of ICJC’s regional activities, its Québec chapter held a symposium at the Quebec Court of Appeal in Montreal, entitled “The Magna Carta and its impact here”, to highlight the 800th anniversary of the Great Charter. Organized by ICJC Board Members Stéphane Beaulac, professor at the University of Montreal, and former judge Pierre Dalphond, now with Stikeman Elliott, this conference had an impressive line-up of speakers. They included Nicole Duval-Hesler, Chief Justice of Quebec, senator Serge Joyal, criminal law lawyer Jean-Claude Hébert, President of the Quebec Human Rights Commission Jacques Frémont, and Dean Nathalie Des Rosiers. The speakers dealt with various topics tied to the legacy of the Magna Carta, but that remain of importance today, including women’s rights, fundamental liberties, and jury trials.

This highly engaging conference was followed by the public launching of the Observatory on National Security Measures, for which Stéphane Beaulac is the founding director. The observatory is one of ICJC’s regional activities, and is housed by the University of Montreal’s Centre for Research in Public Law (CRDP). It is a web-based resource that has the mission of storing documents and following Montreal Magna Cartadevelopments related to national security measures. The site is bilingual, and will be a hub for discussion on the risks and challenges in this area. It is a project of inter-institutional collaboration of the law faculties of the University of Montreal (Stéphane Beaulac), Laval Université (Fannie Lafontaine), Université of Ottawa (Errol Mendes), and Dalhousie Université (Rob Currie).

The event closed with a cocktail reception to commemorate the Honourable Louise Arbour, C.C.,G.O.Q., winner of the 2015 Tarnopolsky Prize.

arbour and mendesOn November 5th, 2015, the ICJC recognized the Honourable Louise Arbour as the 2015 recipient of the Walter S. Tarnopolsky award, which is given annually to an individual who has made a significant contribution to human rights in Canada or abroad. The award ceremony took place in the intimate setting of the judges’ conference room of the Quebec Court of Appeal in Montréal.

ICJC President Errol Mendes praised Madam Arbour as being a person who needs no introduction for most Canadians, given her outstanding contributions to justice and human rights in Canada and around the world.

He highlighted a few of her notable accomplishments: She is a former justice of the Ontario Supreme Court, the Ontario Court of Appeal, and the Supreme Court of Canada, and chaired an inquiry commission that investigated certain events at the Prison for Women in Kingston, Ontario. Internationally, she was the Chief Prosecutor for the International Criminal Tribunals for the former Yugoslavia and Rwanda, and the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights. She was also President of the International Crisis Group from 2009 to 2014, before returning to Canada to take the position of counsel with Borden Ladner Gervais in Montreal. She is a member of the Advisory Board of The Coalition for the International Criminal Court, the Global Commission on Drug Policy, and the International Commission Against the Death Penalty. Among her numerous honorary doctorates and awards, Madam Arbour has been a Companion of the Order of Canada since 2007, a Grand Officer of the Ordre national du Québec since 2009, a Commander of the Légion d'honneur, and has been decorated by both Spain and Colombia.

Louise Arbour et alSarah-Michèle Vincent-Wright, Stéphane Beaulac, Louise Arbour, Frédéric Bérard, Errol Mendes, Pierre Dalphond, and Nathalie Des RosiersAfter being presented with the award, Madam Arbour shared a few comments with an attentive audience of fellow jurists, and answered their questions candidly. She shared some reflections on the state of human rights today, and expressed cautious optimism that we are entering an era of new, pragmatic, and evidence-based approaches to global challenges, particularly in the areas of migrant policy and drug policy. She expressed that it is particularly special for her to receive the Tarnopolsky award, because Walter Tarnopolsky had been a colleague of hers, whom she respected greatly and recalls fondly.

by Ryan Persaud, President, uOttawa ICJC Students' Chapter

On October 27, 2015, I, along with 107 lawyers, judges and law students attended the International Commission of Jurists Canada fundraiser event for Bill Browder, author of the acclaimed novel, “Red Notice.” This true story details the corruption and cronyism of Putin’s Russia, a system that callously took the life of Mr. Browder’s lawyer and close friend, Sergei Magnitsky. Since then, Mr. Browder has travelled the world seeking justice for his friend and in doing so, has directly taken on one of the most powerful authoritarian regimes in the world. Mr. Browder’s story highlights the power of the individual, sticking by one’s principles, and the human cost of seemingly larger than life political issues.

Mr. Browder is a deeply compelling speaker, full of wit and humour, and his story is deeply poignant as well. The question period was brilliantly moderated by the Hon. Ian Binnie, former Supreme Court of Canada justice. Both in his presentation and the question period Mr. Browder reminded of us of how fragile the rule of law truly is and how greed, power, and corruption are constant threats to it. And, on an even more human level, he reminded us what can happen when the rule of law is not respected, and of the lives that are so frequently lost, including those of lawyers such as his courageous lawyer Sergei Magnitsky.

The ICJC has been dedicated to pursuit of justice and promotion of human rights through engaging national and international legal systems for over five decades. In our globalized world, where businesses, communities, and friendships consistently cross borders, realizing these goals is more important now than ever before.

Eight law students from the University of Ottawa and the University of Toronto were able to attend this interesting and enlightening event due to the generosity of Mr. Charles Coffey, who donated a table so that the students could attend free of charge. We are greatly appreciative of his kindness and generosity.

browder event

Saturday, 07 November 2015 22:12

Tackling Islamophobia, featuring Marwan Muhammad

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WEB NEWS Stopping Islamophobia

On October 15, ICJC, in conjunction with the University of Ottawa's Human Rights Research and Education Centre, hosted Marwan Muhammad, advisor to the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe, for an event on Islamophobia. Mr. Muhammad spoke about the harms of Islamophobia, and the responsibility of all members of society, including non-Muslims, to address it.  CLICK HERE to find out more.

ICJC, in conjunction with the Association of Progressive Muslims of Canada, and the Human Rights Research and Education Centre of the University of Ottawa, invite you to attend this important and timely event, featuring a presentation by Marwan Muhammad, Advisor, Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe (OSCE).

Thursday, October 15, 2015, 4 to 6 p.m.
University of Ottawa, Fauteux Hall (57 Louis Pasteur Private) – FTX570

Magna Carta and its impact here, followed by the launch of the Observatory on National Security Measures, and a special ceremony to award the Tarnopolsky Prize to the Honourable Louise Arbour.

Location: The Quebec Court of Appeal (Ernest Cormier building)

Date: November 5, 2-5pm

Crédit : 3h training with the Quebec Bar Association

Cost, including cocktail:

  • FREE for members (please sign up as a member before registering for the event)
  • 75$ for non-members
  • $20 for non-member students

Please note that the majority of this event will take place in French, and translation will not be available.

CLICK HERE to register! As space is limited, we ask that all attendees register in advance.

Click "Read more" below to view the program (French only).

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