McGill to host second Echenberg Family Conference: The Global Conference on Human Rights and Diverse Societies


The McGill University Centre for Human Rights and Legal Pluralism is delighted to announce that it will host the second Echenberg Family Conference on Human Rights, the Global Conference on Human Rights and Diverse Societies, October 7-9, 2010, in Montreal, Canada.

Legislators, scholars, journalists, policy-makers, students, diplomats, activists and others active in the field of international human rights and social diversity will gather in Montreal to debate important questions: Are human rights truly universal? How are actual human rights policies and norms implemented in a world where very diverse societies coexist? How are such societies dealing with the issues raised by their own internal diversity? Can multiculturalism policies help diminish sources of cultural conflict?  What are the solutions to global human rights abuses?

"In many parts of the world, diversity is one of the causes of ethnic or religious conflict or at least troubles," said François Crépeau, Hans and Tamar Oppenheimer Professor of International Public Law at McGill and Chair of the conference.  "Human rights have been determined to be universal, yet cultural diversity makes the interpretation and implementation of many human rights norms challenging. This conference will address how we can move forward on human rights and diversity issues: fine-tune language, renew conceptual frameworks, invent creative processes, develop more powerful international and domestic institutions, and learn from best practices."

Panel topics will include the media's role in shaping public opinion and public policy on human rights and diversity issues, the power of education to spur and combat hatred, the state of the world's human rights institutions, as well as the interaction of human rights with indigenous cultures, religion, and security.

Conference participants will include:

Yakin Ertürk, UN Special Rapporteur on Violence Against Women.

Malalai Joya, Member of Parliament in Afghanistan.

Hon. Irwin Cotler, Former Minister of Justice and Attorney General of Canada.

Gopal Subramaniam, Solicitor General of India.

Hon. Chief Justice Herb Yazzie, Navajo Nation Supreme Court.

Colette Braeckman, Journalist, Le Soir, Brussels.

Thupten Jinpa Langri, Principal English Translator to the Dalai Lama.

André Pratte, Editor-in-Chief, La Presse, Montreal.

Sima Samar, Chairperson of the Afghan Independent Human Rights Commission and UN Special Rapporteur on the Situation of Human Rights in Sudan.

Haroon Siddiqui, Senior Editor, The Toronto Star.

Jameel Jaffer, Director of the American Civil Liberties Union's National Security Program.

William Schabas, Director of the Irish Centre for Human Rights at the National University of Ireland, Galway.

Joris de Bres, Race Relations Commissioner, New Zealand Human Rights Commission.

Elizabeth Cassidy, Deputy Director for Policy and Research, United States Commission on International Religious Freedom.

Faith Pansy Tlakula, Chief Electoral Officer, Electoral Commission of South Africa, member of the African Commission on Human and Peoples' Rights, Special Rapporteur on Freedom of Expression and Access to Information in Africa.

Also, beginning on October 4, the Centre will host the second International Forum for Young Leaders, a pre-conference gathering of 25 young professionals and scholars from every corner of the planet who will explore the contributions they can make to the promotion of multiculturalism and human rights. The forum will provide a unique networking opportunity for young leaders from around the world to engage with each other and to meet with some of the Conference's distinguished speakers. The primary objective of the forum is to raise awareness of human rights issues amongst the younger generation by creating, over the term of the Echenberg conferences, an active global community of young leaders who will remain in contact with each other as well as work in concert to advance the human rights agenda.

About The Echenberg Family Conference on Human Rights

The Echenberg Family Conference was established by a generous gift by McGill alumnus Gordon Echenberg and his wife Penny. The series kicked off in 2007, when McGill hosted the Global Conference on the Prevention of Genocide.  The goal of these conferences is to bridge the gap between academia, including human rights research and writings, and the pragmatics of daily life thereby potentially having some social impact. By assembling various high profile and highly regarded scholars, judges, politicians, business people, students, as well as other stakeholders from various countries and jurisdictions, and recording the proceedings, the Echenbergs and the University hope to foster a greater understanding of the importance as well as the role of human rights issues in the daily lives of individual citizens everywhere.

Please visit our website at for a complete look at speaker and young leader biographies and detailed conference proceedings.

Contact Information

Pascal Zamprelli
Media Relations Office
pascal.zamprelli [at]
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