McGill establishes biennial conference on human rights


McGill University is pleased to announce the establishment of the Echenberg Family Conference on Human Rights, thanks to a generous commitment from Gordon Echenberg and his wife, Penny. Mr. Echenberg declared that the Penny and Gordon Echenberg Foundation will make $750,000 available to support this initiative. Their investment will fund a series of five conferences, held every two years, that will be a forum for informed dialogue on issues of human rights. The series begins with the Global Conference on the Prevention of Genocide, to be held October 11 to 13, 2007.

"With this grand gift, Gordon and Penny Echenberg give expression to a lifetime passion for human rights and a lifetime commitment to McGill University," said Dean of Law Nicholas Kasirer. "McGill's Faculty of Law, its Centre for Human Rights and Legal Pluralism and Montreal are seen by the Echenberg family as the perfect setting for a conference series guided by themes of social diversity, human decency and the free exchange of ideas."

A part of the commitment will also go to fund a lecture series named for WWII-era Swedish diplomat and noted humanitarian Raoul Wallenberg and established in honour of Mr. Echenberg's friend and former classmate, Irwin Cotler.

Speakers for the inaugural conference include Senator Roméo Dallaire, former leader of the United Nations Peacekeeping Force in Rwanda; the Hon. Irwin Cotler, MP (Mount Royal); Juan E. Méndez, United Nations Special Advisor on the Prevention of Genocide; Nobel laureate Wole Soyinka; Martha Minow, professor of law, Harvard University; and Ben Kiernan, director of the Genocide Studies Program, Yale University.

McGill is home to a rich tradition of human rights law and advocacy, which includes the work of Professor John Humphrey, one of the architects of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, constitutional scholar Professor F.R. Scott, Emeritus Professor Paul-André Crépeau, one of the drafters of the Quebec Charter of Human Rights and Freedoms, and Professor Irwin Cotler.

While studying at the Faculty of Law, Mr. Echenberg, BA'61, BCL'64, served as the President of the McGill Students' Society. As a graduate, he became a founding director of Interamicus, a McGill-based international rights advocacy centre. Mr. Echenberg went on to serve three terms as a member of McGill's Board of Governors while pursuing a distinguished career in law.

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Pascal Zamprelli
University Relations Office, McGill University
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