Perween Rehman: The Rebel Optimist (a film by Mahera Omar)

Event: November 24, 2017, Room 420, Macdonald-Harrington Building, 2:00 to 3:30 PM

A documentary film on Perween Rahman, the Pakistani architect, urban planner and social activist who dedicated her life to serving the basic needs of the urban poor.

Introductory remarks by Professor Francois Crépeau, Hans & Tamar Oppenheimer Chair in Public International Law, and Professor Madhav Badami, School of Urban Planning and McGill School of Environment

The film will be followed by a Q&A session with Mr Fayyaz Baqir, O’Brien Fellow in Residence, McGill Centre for Human Rights and Legal Pluralism.

  Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, left, greets new Syrian refugees Georgina Zires, centre, 16 month-old Madeleine Jamkossian, second right, and her father Kevork Jamkossian at Pearson International airport in Toronto on Friday, December 11, 2015. Photo Credit: Nathan Denette/CP

Canada’s Private and Government Sponsorship of Syrian Refugees: Successes, Challenges, Prospects

Event: November 16, 17:30-19:30, Room 312 , New Chancellor Day Hall, Faculty of Law
15 October, 2017

Beginning in March 2011, the Syrian conflict has generated one of the worst refugee crisis in the post World War II era, and has shed light on the urgent need to adopt a protection based approach to the irregular migration crisis.

Canada has also opened up its doors to Syrian refugees. The Canadian system has offered not only government sponsorship of refugees but also a private sponsorship program for resettlement. Canada’s use of both government and private sponsorships as a way of resettling refugees, and highlighted that it is a ‘role model’ for resettlement that should be exported worldwide. Or should it?

We reflect on the successes and lessons learned from this experience as well as prospects and challenges of ensuring that it responds to the protection and humanitarian needs of refugees.


Janet Dench is the Executive Director of the Canadian Council for Refugees, where she has worked for over 25 years. The Canadian Council for Refugees (CCR) is an umbrella organization bringing together over 180 NGOs across Canada committed to the protection of refugees and the settlement of refugees and immigrants. The CCR plays a leading role in advocacy for refugee and immigrant rights.

Audrey Macklin is Director of the Centre for Criminology and Socio-legal Studies, Chair in International Human Rights Law at the University of Toronto, and a current Fellow of the Pierre Elliot Trudeau Foundation. She teaches, researches and writes about migration and citizenship law, business and human rights, and administrative law. From 1994-96, Professor Macklin was a member of the Canada’s Immigration and Refugee Board, where she adjudicated refugee claims. Professor Macklin has also acted as pro bono intervener counsel or academic legal advisor in several public interest human rights cases, including legal challenges to security certificates, withdrawal of health care for refugees, citizenship revocation, and the ban on niqabs at citizenship ceremonies.

Adnan Al Mhamied has a Master of Social Work (MSW) from McGill’s School of Social Work and is a Syrian researcher with the ‘Refugee Integration and Long-Term Health Outcomes in Canada’ study (SyRIA.lth). Adnan left Syria in August 2014 after he played a leading role in the 17th April political movement. He founded the Damascus Centre for Human Rights Studies in his hometown Dar’a and was then selected to be the first ICAN Syrian fellow at the School of Social Work. Adnan has worked with Syrian refugees in Jordan and Montréal, and with internally displaced Syrians inside Syria. He is currently preparing for his PhD exploring the topic of Syrian fatherhood and migration.

Sarwat Dalal Bashi is a Syrian International Human Rights Specialist with a wide experience in the field of civil society and a former O’Brien fellow at the faculty of law (McGill University). He worked at the International Rescue Committee in Turkey for more than two years managing programs for Syrian refugees and internally displaced persons (IDPs) as a protection and rule of law manager. In 2015, he became a Fellow of the United Nations Alliance of Civilization (UNAOC) and travelled to the United States, Germany, Bosnia and Belgium to do research and provide advice to UNAOC and EUNA leaders on Migration and Integration and interfaith dialog issues focusing on Middle East and North Africa (MENA) refugees and immigrants. Prior to 2014 Sarwat worked as a Research Consultant for Human Rights Watch. Sarwat holds a bachelor of law degree from the University of Aleppo, 2005; he has practiced law and legal consultancy for eight years, specializing in criminal and human rights cases. He was honored by the Syrian Bar Association as a Master Lawyer in 2008.

The event will be moderated by Professor François Crépeau, Director of CHRLP and holder of the Oppenheimer Chair in Public International Law. From 2011 to 2017, he was the United Nations Special Rapporteur on the Human Rights of Migrants. He is a Fellow of the Royal Society of Canada, a Fellow of the Pierre Elliott Trudeau Foundation, and an Advocatus Emeritus of the Quebec Bar Association.



  The Canada-European Union (EU) Comprehensive Economic and Trade Agreement (CETA)

Is ‘Political’ International Law the Enemy of Democracy? How treaties are used to bypass and reduce democracy and what we can do about it

Event: November 06, 2017, Room 609 NCDH, McGill Faculty of Law, 13:00-14:30
10 October, 2017

The Oppenheimer Chair and the Centre for Human Rights and Legal Pluralism (CHRLP) are pleased to welcome Florian Couveinhes Matsumoto, from the École normale supérieure (Paris, France), for a conference on the potential threats to Democracy posed by treaties, and on more democratic ways to negotiate, adopt and ratify them.

In this conference, Florian Couveinhes Matsumoto will give an overview of his research, which revolves around three distinct, but related topics: first, the way treaties – and especially trade agreements, investment treaties and treaties that establish international organizations – were and are used by a business and political elite to impose unpopular organs, procedures and policies over which people (and in most cases even domestic parliaments) have little control; second, the reasons explaining why these methods are increasingly problematic and criticized, and why some political circles are willing to seriously address this issue; third, how to improve the democratic character of treaty negotiations, adoption and ratification, in order to avoid two major contemporary problems: the fact that many treaties only secure the interests of a small minority of technocrats and large international corporations, to the detriment of ordinary people, and the issues raised by political uproars leading to the election of governments that are against the current form of international cooperation and international Law, but with no valuable alternatives.

The presentation is moderated by Professor François Crépeau, director of the CHRLP, and will be followed by a discussion with the audience.

Coffee and tea will be served.
Please RSVP at

  Photo Credit: Press TV - Israeli Settlements

A Venue for Justice or an Occupation Accomplice?

The Israeli High Court of Justice and the Israeli Settlements in the Occupied West Bank
2 October, 2017

The Center for Human Rights and Legal Pluralism and the Oppenheimer Chair in Public International Law are pleased to present:

“A Venue for Justice or an Occupation Accomplice?: The Israeli High Court of Justice and the Israeli Settlements in the Occupied West Bank”

When: Friday October 13th, 13:00-14:30

Where: New Chancellor Day Hall, McGill Faculty of Law, room #609

This talk will provide an overview of how the Israeli Supreme Court of Justice (HCJ) has interpreted and applied principles of the international law of occupation in adjudicating petitions that were filed by Palestinians to challenge the legality of security based measures that were implemented for the alleged safety of Israeli settlements and settlers in the occupied West Bank after the outbreak of the Second Intifada (2000) .

The first element to consider is the extent to which the Court has provided Palestinian petitioners with a venue for an effective domestic remedy for alleged violations of their internationally protected rights. The research adopts the HCJ’s position that the international law of occupation is guided by an internal logic of balancing between the Occupant’s security requirements and the fundamental rights of the occupied population. It also espouses that this logic is reflected in the three normative principles underlying this body of law: stating that occupation is ‘temporary’, that it is a form of trust, and that it does not bestow sovereignty by the Occupant over the occupied territory. Hence, the second question that the research attempts to answer is whether the Court’s adjudication has promoted or undermined those principles.

Speaker Bio: Rouba Al-Salem has an undergraduate degree in International Relations from the American University in Cairo. Later, she obtained a Master of Arts in Middle East Politics from Exeter University (UK) and a Master of Law in Public International Law from the London School of Economics and Political Science (UK). In 2016, she graduated with a PhD in law from Montreal University’s faculty of law and is currently a postdoctoral (Steinberg) fellow in international migration rights and policy at the Center for Human Rights and Legal Pluralism (McGill) for the year (2017-2018). In the past, she has worked in and on human rights issues as they relate to the Middle East region, including for the UN Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights.

Moderator: Professor François Crépeau, Director, McGill Centre for Human Rights and Legal Pluralism

Coffee and Tea will be served. Please RSVP at

  Yannick Lécuyer, maître de conférences HDR à l’université d’Angers et collaborateur de la fondation René Cassin

Existe-t-il un ordre public européen?

Event: September 22, 13:00-14:30, Faculty of McGill
19 September, 2017

Existe-t-il un ordre public européen? Join the Center for Human Rights and Legal Pluralism at McGill and the Oppenheimer Chair this Friday for a conversation with Yannick Lécuyer, maître de conférences HDR à l’université d’Angers et collaborateur de la fondation René Cassin, to find out.

L’ordre public européen est l’ordre d’une Europe institutionnelle vouée intégralement à la protection de valeurs et de libertés fondamentales. Apparu à plusieurs reprises dans certains des arrêts les plus prestigieux rendus par la Cour européenne des droits de l’homme, la notion d’ordre public européen fait encore débat. Pour certains, elle est devenue le pivot du contentieux européen des droits de l’homme. Pour d’autres, elle est surévaluée et artificielle.

Coffee and Tea will be served. RSVP at

Location: New Chancellor Day Hall, McGill Faculty of Law, room #609