It was a full house on Wednesday, October 31, 2018 as students, practitioners and academics came out to join a panel discussion, “70 Years On... Is Humanity Ready for a World Court of Human Rights?” keynoted by Mark Oettinger, the principal drafter of the World Court of Human Rights (WCHR) statute. Mr. Oettinger is an international lawyer and academic based in Burlington, Vermont. He led a team that worked under the auspices of the World Service Authority, an NGO based in Washington, D.C.
This was the first opportunity for a Canadian audience to learn about the WCHR Development Project. Although this instrument was endorsed during the World’s Chief Justices meeting at Lucknow, India in 2014, the resulting “Treaty of Lucknow” has received little play in Western circles. The subject was debated by three informed panelists: the Honourable Ian Binnie, Counsel at Lenczner Slaght and retired Justice of the Supreme Court of Canada, Janine Lespérance from Avocats Sans Frontières Canada, and Daniel Turp, Professor of Public Law at University of Montreal.
The event was hosted by the Human Rights Research and Education Centre and the Hyman Soloway Chair in Business and Trade Law. It was initially conceived and supported by Scott Fairly, a well-known Toronto lawyer and the Chair of the panel. Mr. Fairly described the WCHR Development Project as “addressing a potential mechanism for dealing with horror stories around the world”. The initiative was also sponsored by The Canadian Council on International Law, the International Commission of Jurists Canada, The Canadian Bar Association, International Law Section and The Ontario Bar Association, International Law Section.
At the reception for the event, Professor Penelope Simons was formally awarded the Walter Tarnopolsky Award by John Packer on behalf of ICJ Canada. The Award is given annually to a Canadian who has made an outstanding contribution to human rights, domestically or internationally.