Genocide prevention: Hope for the future


Thirty five youth leaders from 23 countries to meet in pre-conference

From October 7th to the 11th, McGill University will welcome thirty-five exceptional young people from around the world for the International Young Leaders Forum, a series of workshops, roundtable discussions and cultural events in advance of the Global Conference on the Prevention of Genocide, Oct. 11-13.

The Forum will take place at McGill’s Faculty of Law while the conference itself will be held at the Hotel Omni Mount-Royal.

The McGill Centre for Human Rights and Legal Pluralism, which is sponsoring both the Young Leaders Forum and the Conference, received over three hundred applications from 18 to 30 year-olds from around the world and the successful thirty-five applicants include graduate students in law, politics, and international development, NGO workers and activists, policymakers, local government representatives and journalists (Please see bios below).

This unique forum will explore the unique contribution that young professionals and scholars can make to the prevention of genocide and the promotion of human rights, both in their own countries and in the international arena. It will provide young leaders the opportunity to meet with key speakers from the conference and to debate issues surrounding genocide and its prevention.

On Thursday, October 11th, from 10:30 to 12:30 the Young Leaders Forum will present their conclusions to a panel of conference participants including Lt. General (ret.) and Senator Romeo Dallaire, Harvard University Professor Martha Minow, Nigerian author and Nobel Laureate Wole Soyinka, and human rights activist and Darfur lawyer Salih Mahmoud Osman. This session will take place at the Moot Court, at McGill’s Faculty of Law, 3644 Peel Street. Media are invited to attend.

The Global Conference on the Prevention of Genocide, to be held from October 11th to the 13th at the Hotel Omni Mont-Royal in Montreal, will bring together survivors and witnesses with eminent thinkers, politicians, journalists, and activists from around the world whose lives have been forever changed by this horrific crime against humanity. This will be the first major non-governmental conference on the global prevention of genocide since the adoption of the UN Genocide Convention in 1948 to prevent and punish what Winston Churchill called “the crime that has no name.”

The Conference is the inaugural Echenberg Family Conference on Human Rights, a series established in January through a generous gift from McGill law alumnus Gordon Echenberg and his wife, Penny. All Young Leaders’ expenses are covered by the Echenberg Family Fund.

Young Leader Biographies:

Jamal Al-Kirnawi (Israel) is the Counselor for Arab Students at Ben Gurion University of the Negev in Beer Sheva, Israel. His research examines the use of storytelling as a method for sparking dialogue between Mizrachi Jewish immigrants and Israeli Arab Bedouin. During his time with Community Advocacy, an Israeli non-profit organization, Jamal organized storefront community centers in the Bedouin community, to inform, educate, and advocate for the rights of Bedouin citizens of Israel. He has also worked with Bedouin youth and special needs children. Jamal holds a Masters Degree in Social Work from McGill.

See the recent story in the Jerusalem Post on Jamal Al-Kirnawi.

Ilaria Allegrozzi (Italy) is currently pursuing an LLM in Human Rights Law at Queen’s University in Belfast. Her research focuses on the question of reservations - unilateral statements made by states purporting to exclude or to modify parts of international agreements - to the Convention against Genocide, and how they may jeopardise the raison d’être of the treaty. She has worked on international projects ranging from sustainable consumption to child trafficking in Africa, has been a journalist for the Italian National Newspaper Il Tempo, and has published a collection of poems.

Jobb Arnold (Canada) is currently a graduate student in Social Psychology at the University of British Columbia where he is studying personal transformation in Rwanda and factors involved in vengeance and forgiveness. He has traveled to Rwanda to take part in a collaborative project with the National University of Rwanda’s Center for Conflict Management. He is now involved with the Vancouver based NGO Building Bridges with Rwanda as well as the Action, Research and Experience initiative through Simon Fraser University’s public interest research group.

Tamara Barbakadze (Armenia), a journalist by education, is currently a student at the American University of Armenia School of Law where she will receive her Masters in Comparative Legal Studies. She is a project coordinator for an NGO called Apaven, where she oversees the monitoring of the protection of civil, political, economic and social rights of internally displaced people. She has also studied journalism.

Jennifer Nellie Beckley (Sierra Leone) is a legal practitioner and human rights advocate. When she was 17, she and her brother escaped the civil war in Sierra Leone and left for Gambia, where they lived as refugees for three months before joining an aunt in Pakistan. After completing her LLB, she returned to Freetown and worked as a State Counsel at the Law Officers’ Department and later as a Junior Attorney at the Special Court for Sierra Leone.

Audrey Boctor (Canada) is an Associate-in-Law at Columbia Law School, where she is a SSHRC Fellow and teaches the Legal Practice Workshop to first-year law students. In 2005-2006 she clerked for Chief Justice Beverly McLachlin at the Supreme Court of Canada. Prior to clerking, she worked as an intern in Chambers at the International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda, as a research assistant to the Law Commission of Canada and as a student at Crown Law Office (Criminal) in Toronto.

Matt Bowlby (U.S.A.) is currently a Civil Affairs Officer for the UN peacekeeping mission in Sudan, where he is facilitating national reconciliation and conflict resolution while monitoring the Darfur crisis. He is also a researcher for International Justice Sector Development, an NGO that supports justice systems in transition and post-conflict reconstruction, and is now assisting the Rwandan government to transfer cases from the UN Criminal Tribunal to the Rwandan national justice system.

Anton Burkov (Russia) is currently a Ph.D. candidate in law at the University of Cambridge who serves as a legal representative in a number of cases before the European Court of Human Rights. He has been practicing and teaching human rights law since 1998 and has published five books and more then 20 papers in major Russian law journals and in English-language law journals. In 2002 he set up a human rights news agency, Sutyajnik-Press.

Megan Carroll (U.S.A) is the Program Coordinator for the University Committee on Human Rights Studies at Harvard University, where she coordinates the Scholars at Risk program, which provides fellowships for academics whose lives and work are threatened in their home countries. She also serves as a Senior Fellow of Humanity in Action and as a Resident Tutor in Public Service for Harvard undergraduates. Last year, Carroll spent two months in Sierra Leone and Liberia with the International Rescue Committee.

Phebe Mavungu Clément (Democratic Republic of Congo) is currently enrolled as a PhD student in The Witwatersrand University School of Law. After graduating with a law degree at the University of Kinshasa, he worked as a Legal Advisor in ADIMAG, a local NGO, and as a Technical Controller and Electoral Trainer in the Independent Electoral Commission. While at the American University in Cairo as an exchange student, Clément undertook an internship with EIPR, an Egyptian Human Rights NGO.

Hovig Hetyemezian (Lebanon), an individual of Armenian descent who was born and raised in Lebanon, holds a Masters degree in Gender and Peace-building from the Costa Rica-based United Nations-mandated University for Peace, and is currently Senior Administrative Clerk at the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees Regional office in Beirut. He is a member of the Foundation for Human and Humanitarian Rights, Lebanon, which trains students and lawyers and monitors elections, and of the Young Leaders’ Peace Council, a group formed by the Global Peace Initiative of Women.

Rebecca Hamilton (Australia) is a joint-degree student at Harvard Law School and the John F. Kennedy School of Government, where she is a Knox Fellow. Before attending law school she worked with displaced populations in Sudan. When she returned to the United States, Hamilton co-founded the Harvard Darfur Action Group, which was critically involved in Harvard University's historic decision to divest from companies supporting the Sudanese Government's genocidal campaign.

Bonney Hartley (U.S.A.) is currently a research assistant with the NGO Indigenous Peoples of Africa Coordinating Committee in Cape Town, South Africa and works to promote understanding of the African context of indigenous peoples’ issues. A member of the Stockbridge-Munsee Band of Mohican Indians in Wisconsin, Hartley initially focused her studies on Native Americans and later broadened her research to focus on international issues dealing with indigenous peoples. In 2006 she completed an internship with the United Nations Permanent Forum on Indigenous Peoples in New York, where she monitored the discussions in the human rights and culture committee on the Draft Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples.

Saleh Hijazi (Palestinian Territories) has been studying for a Masters in the Theory and Practice of Human Rights at University of Essex in England, where he is President of the University of Essex Palestinian Society, since 2006. During the second half of 2005 he worked as a Public Relations Officer for the Office of the Ministry of Planning in Ramallah, the city in which he was raised. His research focuses on the cultural genocide of small peoples throughout the world.

Jesper Houborg (Denmark) is a graduate student in International Development Studies and Philosophy at Roskilde University, Denmark, where his main academic focus has been the examination of the root causes of the genocide in Rwanda, the international community’s role in the tragedy, and the present reconciliation process in the country. In 2006, Houborg produced a documentary titled Ingando – When Enemies Return, on the so-called re-educational camps in Rwanda. He has also assisted on research assignments on the situation in Darfur.

Dan Juma (Kenya) is currently a Program Officer at the Kenya Human Rights Commission, the premier human rights watchdog in Kenya, and is also a lawyer. Previously, he worked as a Research Assistant to the Secretary and Chief Executive of the Constitution of Kenya Review Commission, the body mandated to draft Kenya’s new Constitution.

Rosebell Kagumire (Uganda) is a human rights journalist with a background in print, radio and television media. In October 2006, she joined Nation TV Uganda (NTV), an arm of East Africa's Nation Media Group, where she continues to specialize in reporting on the judicial system and human rights issues. After graduating from university, she worked for the Uganda Radio Network, an agency of the Institute for War and Peace Reporting in London.

Daniela Korbas-Magal (Israel) is currently a PhD student in the Communications Department of Ben-Gurion University, Israel. She recently finished her military service as an Officer of the Israeli Defense Forces Spokesperson's Unit. Her research focuses on virtual citizen political participation and empowerment, citizen-government relations in contemporary democracies and new political tools, and she has recently published a booklet on the influence of information technology on civil participation and quality of governance.

Kris Kotarski (Canada) is currently a Masters candidate at the Centre for Military and Strategic Studies at the University of Calgary. He also works as a journalist for the CanWest News chain in Canada, primarily for the Calgary Herald. In 2006 Kotarski completed a Research Fellowship at the United Nations Institute for Disarmament Research in Geneva.

Muhamed Mesic (Bosnia-Herzegovina) is currently working as a Research Fellow for the Institute for Research of Crimes Against Humanity and International Law of the University of Sarajevo, coordinating international projects and researching the genocide in Bosnia as well as the Holocaust. He is also a special advisor to Brainswork, a Vienna/Louisville-based sustainable development network. In 2004, he co-founded the "Youth of Tuzla" association, using theatre as a tool to empower disadvantaged youth in his birth city.

Sarah Meyer (Australia) is currently conducting research on rights-based approaches to refugee aid and development and international responses to internal displacement, as a 2006-2007 Sauvé Scholar at McGill University. She has recently undertaken a research project for a refugee lobby group, A Just Australia, on complementary protection and off-shore processing of refugees in Australia. Having studied conflict, crisis and intervention, she is currently involved in strategy and planning for research projects through the Montreal Institute for Genocide and Human Rights Studies.

Mekdes Mezgebu (Ethiopia) graduated with a degree in Law from Addis Ababa University in 2006, having been one of very few female students accepted to the school. Her studies focused on human rights norms and values, political and religious persecutions, and historical massacres such as the Holocaust and the Rwandan genocide.

Jina Moore (U.S.A.) is currently studying conflict analysis as a U.S. Truman Scholar and a Jack Kent Cooke Scholar at Columbia University's School of International and Public Affairs. She has studied Holocaust history at Boston University and was a founding board member of the West Virginia Holocaust Education Foundation. The focus of Moore’s recent work has been on the role of disputed versions of history in fueling ethnic conflict and genocide, and in 2008 she will be moving to Kigali, Rwanda, to pursue independent research on grassroots reconciliation initiatives.

Cyprien Ntahomvukiye (Burundi) is the Executive Director and founder of Youth Strategy for Disaster Reduction, an active network of young people working to reduce disaster risk. A human rights activist, Ntahomvukiye has worked for seven years with international organizations, in particular with CARE International in Burundi as a Coordinator for Partnership and with Human Rights Education and as a Capacity Building Officer. He is also participating in the launch of the International and Interdisciplinary Symposium on the Discourse on the Rwandan Genocide.

Will Paterson (Canada) is currently articling at McCarthy Tetrault LLP in Toronto and will soon begin working as an Associate at an international law firm in London, England. He has worked with the McGill Clinic for the Special Court for Sierra Leone and has clerked for Judge Sir Dennis Byron at the United Nations International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda in Arusha, Tanzania. Paterson is also co-founder and a member of the Board of Directors of Never Again International, a not-for-profit organization devoted to educating and connecting young people around the world with an aim to preventing genocide.

Nicole Powell (U.S.A.) is currently teaching world history and United States history to middle and high school students at the Waterville Valley Academy in New Hampshire. She has presented academic papers on genocide and humanitarian crises at International Studies Association and New England Political Science Association conferences. Powell’s research has focused on precursory events that lead political elites to adopt policies of genocide.

Rajat Rana (India) is currently a lawyer in the High Court of State of Punjab and Haryana as well as the Supreme Court of India and will commence a Masters in Law at Stanford University in fall 2007. He spent several months as a legal intern assisting the Judges of the U.N. International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda. Rana has published several papers in leading national and international journals and is currently authoring a book on indigenous people as subalterns in international law.

Gaston Segakiga (Rwanda) is an executive secretary of the Muko sector, a local government entity in the Gicumbi district, Northern Province. In 2004, he was appointed as a judge in the Provincial Court of Byumba (today the Higher Instance Court of Gicumbi), where he spent one and a half years. As a teenager he witnessed the atrocities in Rwanda that claimed the lives of many of his close family members, and has since been a founding member of two genocide survivors' associations.

Saima Siddiqui (Pakistan) is currently working as a Gender Specialist at the Social Policy and Development Centre in Karachi where she focuses on conflict, human rights, faith and development issues related to gender and governance in Pakistan. She has published a women workers manual, “Aao Ghulami apni Chodain” (“Let’s break away from our slavery”), and has been involved in various research projects concerning gender and human rights issues.

Sjoerd Wiemer Sjoerdsma (The Netherlands) is a senior policy advisor at the Sudan unit of the Dutch ministry of Foreign Affairs. As the political and military desk officer, he is one of those responsible for the substantial Dutch support to the African Union peacekeeping mission in Darfur. Having regularly visited both Darfur and South Sudan, he has had first hand experience in dealing with both victims and perpetrators of mass violence.

Gulazat Tursun (China) is currently a teacher at Xinjiang University where, in 2004, she was invited to teach at the Science and Technology School. In 2006 she completed her Master’s degree in the Human Rights Program at Peking University and created a Human Rights and Business course at Xinjiang University. She has also worked for Aizhixing, an NGO in China that works for the rights of those with AIDS, as well as the Association of Disabled Persons.

Julia Turvey (Canada) is currently a student at McGill University’s faculty of law, and has recently completed an MSc in Human Rights at the London School of Economics. She has spent the summer working for the Office of the Prosecutor at the International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda as an intern with the McGill Center for Human Rights and Legal Pluralism. Turvey also works with the Journal for Sustainable Development Law and Policy and is a Coordinator of McGill’s Human Rights Working Group.

Denyse Umutoni (Rwanda) is currently the President of the Messengers of Peace Association which, with the help of the German government, created human rights clubs in all secondary schools in Rwanda. This year they plan to do the same with primary schools. Since 2004, she has been the national coordinator of CINEDUC (Youth Education Through Cinema), a project which aims to sensitize the young and people in rural areas to issues such as conflict management, children’s rights, and racial discrimination. Umutoni is a survivor of the 1994 genocide that devastated her country, which inspired her to promote human rights and peace.

Uğur Ümit Üngör (The Netherlands) is currently a Ph.D. candidate at the Department of History of the University of Amsterdam and an academic staff member of the Center for Holocaust and Genocide Studies in Amsterdam. In 2005, he was the first student to graduate from the University of Amsterdam’s Masters program in ‘Holocaust and Genocide Studies.’ He has published on genocide in general and on the Rwandan and Armenian genocides in particular.

Dalia Zatara (Jordan) is currently working with the Jordan Red Crescent Society and assisting its partner organization, Sweileh Community Development Center, a grassroots organization established by the McGill Middle East Programme, on empowering the disadvantaged residents of low-income neighborhoods of Sweileh and promoting civil society. She is involved with a network of Jordanian, Palestinian and Israeli researchers to examine the relationship between peace building and the right-based approach practiced by their grassroots organizations network. Zatara is currently completing a diploma in the international human rights of women at the Raoul Wallenberg Institute.

On the Web:

International Youth Leaders Forum

Global Conference on the Prevention of Genocide

Contact Information

Pascal Zamprelli
McGill University
pascal.zamprelli [at]
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