Brown Bag Seminar – Terrorism: An indeterminate threat for human rights?

Wednesday, January 25, 2023 13:00to14:00
101 New Chancellor Day Hall


Counterterror, as much as it triggers public support, targets an ill-defined category of acts. Indeed, States did not, to date, reach a consensus on a definition of terrorism in international law. On the other hand, terrorism is criminalized in every State, which defines it in as many different ways. “Terrorists” and “terrorist groups” are also the objects of national and international lists and sanctions. These regimes come with important powers for the States, at the height of the “exceptional security threat" they face. These, in turn, have important impacts on human rights, that derive not only from antiterrorism measures but also from the indeterminacy of terrorism itself, that latter aspect being largely overlooked both in popular perception and academia. The seminar aims to highlight how diverse realities the term “terrorism” encompasses, depending on regional and national conceptions, and to bring to light some of the most common human rights violations associated with the use of such a polysemic and broad legal term. 


Camille Marquis Bissonnette is a postdoctoral fellow in Law at McGill, for which she received an SSHRC fellowship. She completed a Ph.D in Law within the Canada Research Chair in International Criminal Law and Human Rights at Université Laval, under the supervision of Professor Fannie Lafontaine.  She wrote her thesis, “Terrorisme: le mot qui blesse. L’indétermination du terme «terrorisme» et ses incidences sur la protection de la personne en droit international”, on the intersections of international security law and the legal protection of human beings. Camille also completed a LL.M at the Geneva Academy of International Humanitarian Law and Human Rights and interned at the United Nations International Law Commission. Her research interests lay principally in public international law, international security, criminal law and human rights, fields in which she has published book chapters and articles. Her postdoctoral research focuses on the impacts of the indeterminacy of terrorism on the protection of refugees. Camille is a lecturer in the fields of international human rights law and international criminal law. She has also been working as a consultant for the Canadian federal government. She is very active in human rights education and outreach, and she is dedicated to making a difference for human rights at every level, both within and outside academia. 


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