The International Commission of Jurists (Canadian Section) is happy to announce the launch of a new bilingual online resource relating to the theme of the rule of law and the protection of human rights: the “Observatory on National Security Measures” (Observatoire des mesures visant la sécurité nationale or OSN), housed in the Faculty of Law of the University of Montreal. It is an initiative of the Quebec chapter of ICJ Canada, in collaboration with the Public Law Research Centre of the University of Montreal. Professor Stéphane Beaulac, Ph.D. (Cantab.), full professor at the University of Montreal, is the founding director of the project. The Observatory consists of a platform for research on and diffusion of legislation, Parliamentary Bills, government directives and other official documents relating to national security measures (eg. Bill C-51). It will also permit different interveners to come together and share opinions and commentary on national security, notably on the blog portion of the site.

Visit and bookmark the Observatory website! --> http://osn.openum.ca/en/


fowlerdk211Former Ambassador Robert Fowler, one of Canada’s most distinguished diplomats, presented a riveting talk at the University of Ottawa on June 29th, 2015. The event was organized by ICJ Canada, along with the Security and Policy Institute of Professional Development, University of Ottawa.

Professor Mendes, President of ICJ Canada, introduced Ambassador Fowler as a dominant force in Canadian foreign affairs who experienced a most devastating life-threatening event. On December 14, 2008, Fowler, acting as the UN Secretary General’s Special Envoy to Niger, was kidnapped by Al Qaeda, becoming the highest ranked UN official ever held captive. In his presentation, Ambassador Fowler related how, along with his colleague Louis Guay, he lived, slept and ate with his captors for nearly five months, gaining rare first-hand insight into the motivations of the world’s most feared terror group. Ambassador Fowler discussed how his capture, release and subsequent media appearances have helped shed new light on foreign policy and security issues as we enter the second decade of the “War on Terror” and a new understanding of the so called “clash of civilizations”. The presentation was followed be a lively discussion moderated Professor Mendes with the 60 participants from the government, civil society, the diplomatic community and the legal profession.

Ambassador Fowler's book, A Season in Hell, is the compelling story of his captivity, told in his own words.

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magna carta

“No free man shall be seized or imprisoned, or stripped of his rights or possessions, or outlawed or exiled or in any other way destroyed, nor will we proceed with force against him, except by the lawful judgement of his equals or by the law of the land. To no one will we sell, to no one deny or delay, right or justice.” …Magna Carta 1215 Due Process of Law (Chapter 39,40)

The Security and Policy Institute of Professional Development and the Faculty of Law at the University of Ottawa in collaboration with the International Commission of Jurists, Canadian Section, along with the Canadian Museum of History are pleased to co-host a private reception and viewing of the 800th anniversary of the Magna Carta and the Charter of the Forest. All members of ICJ Canada are welcome to attend and to invite their colleagues.

The Magna Carta remains a relevant and revered document, 800 years after England’s King John affixed his seal to it in 1215. This celebrated historical document, together with the Charter of the Forest, laid out key precepts that lay the foundations of democratic societies in Canada and around the world today — including the principle that no one is above the law, the foundations of the rule of law that include rights such as freedom from detention without cause and trial by jury; and protection of the common good and the some of the earliest enunciations of the rights of women.

Speakers at this event include Julia Nolan, Head Foreign Policy, British High Commission; The Honourable Paul Crampton, Chief Justice, Federal Court of Canada; and Professor Errol P. Mendes, President, ICJ Canada.


Tuesday, July 21, 2015, from 6 p.m. to 8 p.m.

The Magna Carta Canada Exhibition at the Canadian Museum of History
Voyageur Salon, 100 Laurier Street
Gatineau, Québec K1A 0M8

Paid parking is available onsite. Visit the Museum’s website for complete details.

RSVP required - Space is limited and registration is required. Online registration is now open.

We look forward to seeing you!

Monday, 01 June 2015 23:54

ICJ Canada holds its Annual Meeting

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On May 28, members of ICJ Canada had the opportunity to participate in our annual meeting, held in Ottawa.  Members unable to attend were able to join the meeting by conference call.

ICJC President Errol Mendes delivered his President’s report, highlighting the considerable achievements in the first part of the year, including the transition to a new office, and the initiation of several new activities and events across Canada.  He also thanked Board members Raj Anand, John Campion, David Wake, Jane O’Neill and Michael Gottheil, who would be leaving the Board, for their contributions to the organization; and welcomed the skills and expertise that the new slate of Board members would bring. The new members are Chantal Bernier, the Hon. Pierre Dalphond and Jennifer Egsgard.

Members also received a program update about the exciting new activities being spearheaded by regional VPs, heard about the potential integration of our new activities with ICJ Geneva, and were given a detailed Financial and membership report by our Secretary-Treasurer, Robin Sully.

Overall, the meeting was an excellent occasion for members to learn more about ICJ Canada’s status and activities, participate in our organization’s governance, and connect with each other.

Robert Fowler has had a distinguished career as a Canadian diplomat and public servant. In addition to serving as Canada's ambassador to the United Nations ('95-2000) and to Italy (2000-'06), he has also been foreign policy advisor to three prime ministers. Robert was also the Deputy Minister of National Defence and the Prime Minister's Personal Representative for Africa.

For decades, Robert was a dominant force in Canadian foreign affairs. In one heart-stopping minute, all of that changed. On December 14, 2008, Fowler, acting as the UN Secretary General’s Special Envoy to Niger, was kidnapped by Al Qaeda, becoming the highest ranked UN official ever held captive.

Along with his colleague Louis Guay, Fowler lived, slept and ate with his captors for nearly five months, gaining rare first-hand insight into the motivations of the world’s most feared terror group. Fowler’s capture, release and subsequent media appearances have helped shed new light on foreign policy and security issues as we enter the second decade of the “War on Terror.” His book, A Season in Hell, is Fowler’s compelling story of his captivity, told in his own words. It is also a startlingly frank discussion about the state of a world redefined by clashing civilizations.

The presentation and following discussion is organized by Errol Mendes, President of ICJ Canada and law professor at the University of Ottawa in partnership with the University’s Centre for Continuing Education and its Security and Policy Institute of Professional Development.

This event will be held on Monday, June 29, from 5-7pm in Ottawa on the University campus, in Desmarais Hall Room 12102. This event is free to attend, but attendees are requested to register online, as space is limited.

On May 14, 2015 the ICJ in collaboration with the Canadian Bar Association (CBA) presented a program session titled Equity, Inclusion, Poverty Reduction....It's about Justice! Integrating Justice into the Post-2015 Sustainable Development Agenda as part of the Canadian Council for International Co-operation (CCIC) and the Canadian Association of International Development Professionals (CAIDP) annual International Cooperation Days Conference. This year, the Conference had the theme “ Universal Goals Canadian Challenges”. It was held in Gatineau, QC from May 12-14th and brought together 400 of Canada’s leading development professionals from civil society, the private sector, academia and government to focus on the post-2015 global development agenda.

The ICJ/CBA session was chaired by Errol Mendes, President of ICJ Canada. The objective of the session was to consider rule of law and access to justice as a universal goal and as a means to achieve the outcomes of other proposed post-2015 sustainable development goals and, in particular, to ensure equality and inclusivity in their implementation. Panelists included Adrian Di Giovanni, Senior Program Officer, Law and Development, International Development Research Centre (IDRC); Andrea Redway, Director of International Initiatives, CBA; and Petra Andersson, Director of Programs, Parliamentary Centre. To inform the discussion each of the panelists reflected on the collective experiences of Canadian legal institutions and each of their respective organization’s work on rule of law and access to justice issues in Canada and in developing countries. The conference attendees were invited by the chair, the panelists, and the session facilitator, Jennifer Khor, CBA Project Director, to consider how integrating access to justice and rule of law initiatives -including establishing legal frameworks, strengthening institutions and empowering citizen engagement- might meaningfully advance education, health, environmental, and equality development goals.

Response to the ICJ/CBA session was enthusiastic. As one participant noted, “there was a tremendous amount of interest in the room, a good discussion, and I know that I am excited and keen to bring these debates to more of our members”.

A draft policy paper prepared by Robin Sully, Secretary-Treasurer of the ICJ, was provided to the participants as a background document to help inform the discussion.

Monday, 11 May 2015 18:42

Panel at CCIC-CAIDP Conference

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ICJ Canada is pleased to be participating in the 2015 conference organized jointly by the Canadian Council for International Cooperation (CCIC) and the Canadian Association of International Development Professionals (CAIDP), entitled "Universal Goals, Canadian Challenges".

On Thursday, May 14, 2015, we will be hosting a panel along with the Canadian Bar Association, on "Integrating justice into the post-2015 SDG agenda". Our speakers will be Petra Andersson, Adrian Di Giovanni, Jennifer Khor, Andrea Redway, and Robin Sully.

Click here for more information, including online registration. You can find the full agenda here.


In a joint letter sent to The Honourable Rob Nicholson, Minister of Foreign Affairs, and The Honourable Christian Paradis, Minister of International Development, the ICJ collaborated with the CBA, the Parliamentary Centre, and the International Law Research Programme of the Centre for International Governance Innovation to encourage the Canadian government to prioritize support for rule of law in the post-2015 global sustainable development agenda and within Canada's overseas development assistance program.

Thursday, 09 April 2015 09:30

Launch of the Judicial Appointment project

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judicial appointments project webOn the right: ICJ Canada Board member Gib van Ert at reception for judicial appointments project.

On March 5, ICJ Canada Board member Gib van Ert hosted an event at his law firm, Hunter Litigation Chambers, in Vancouver, British Columbia. This successful event served as an occasion to introduce the Canadian section of ICJ and its new project on federal judicial appointments to members of the local bar. Guests included Mr. Justice Voith of the Supreme Court of British Columbia; Bruno De Vita, managing partner of a well-known local firm, Alexander Holburn; John Hunter QC, head of Hunter Litigation Chambers; and Clea Amundsen, who recently spent several months in Kenya on an ICJ project. Event attendees learned about ICJ Canada’s focus on promoting an effective judicial appointments process that reflects international norms, and ensures a respected and independent judiciary that also reflects the diversity of Canada’s population. You can find out more about the project here.

Thursday, 09 April 2015 09:28

ICJ Canada renewal

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The first part of 2015 has been a busy and exciting time for ICJ Canada. We are engaged in a process of renewal that has involved some significant changes.

We’ve moved!

Our new office is now housed on the University of Ottawa campus, in the Human Rights Research and Education Centre. This new location is ideal, as it will allow us to take advantage of the resources available in a university setting, and to strengthen partnerships with students and professors at the University of Ottawa Faculty Of Law. This location fits nicely with our intention is to grow a network of student groups across Canada; and to foster a commitment to our core values among young jurists (as well as the legal profession and Canadian society more broadly).
Our new office address and contact information is:

ICJ Canada
University of Ottawa
Suite 554 - 57 Louis Pasteur
Ottawa, ON K1N 6N5
Tel : 613-562-5199
Email : This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

New members of our team

We have welcomed a new Executive Director to our team: Janine Lespérance. She is a lawyer with a firm commitment to promoting human rights, and shares with the Board of Directors the strong will to advance the work and deepen the impact of ICJ Canada in innovative ways.

We also have several new Board members on our roster, and invite you to view the full list.

Please feel free to get in touch with Janine our any one of our directors to find out how you can be involved in ICJ Canada’s work.

New focus areas

We have chosen to focus our current activities on four substantive theme areas that are galvanizing national and international attention: judicial appointments, business and access to justice, national security and civil liberties, and rule of law in the post-2015 international development agenda. Please visit our issues page to find out more.

To continue with these and other initiatives, we rely on the support of engaged members and donors who share our belief that our country needs a strong legal organization like ICJ Canada; one that aims to ensure that Canadian laws reflect international norms and standards, and which is part of a global network of jurists working to promote the rule of law, human rights, and the independence of the judiciary. Join us or donate today!

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