Human Rights Lecture: Abdullahi Ahmed An-Na'im


Leading scholar of Islam and human rights Abdullahi Ahmed An-Na'im delivers John Peters Humphrey Lecture at McGill
Published: 5Oct2012

Anti-government protestors massacred in Yemen during the Arab Spring; pre-election intimidation in Angola this past August; Shia clerics tried and imprisoned for blasphemy by Sunni-controlled courts in Indonesia in recent years. The list goes on. The problem with defending international human rights through legal means is one of logistics: who does it, when, and how? Currently, it is up to the state to define and implement human rights norms for its citizens. But when it is precisely the officials of the state who are violating these norms, is it not paradoxical to also expect the state to enforce them?

According to Professor Abdullahi Ahmed An-Na’im, of Emory University, the current paradigm is also reactive, piecemeal, slow and expensive. “At best, international human rights law reacts against violations after they happen, one individual victim or group of victims at a time. It is a long and expensive process, and its eventual remedy may or may not be implemented,” he says.
Prof. An-Na’im will deliver McGill University’s 2012 John Peters Humphrey Lecture in Human Rights on Thursday, Oct. 11. He will argue that a more proactive, preventive approach would address the underlying causes of human rights violations, and promote a culture in which respect for the dignity of others is the norm, not the exception.
WHO:              Professor Abdullahi Ahmed An-Na'im, Emory Law School
WHAT:           2012 John Peters Humphrey Lecture in Human Rights
WHEN:           Thursday, October 11, 5 p.m. to 7 p.m.
WHERE:          McGill University, Chancellor Day Hall: 3644, Peel St., Montreal
*The lecture is in English
About Abdullahi Ahmed An-Na'im
An internationally recognized scholar of Islam and human rights and leading authority on the place of secularism in Islam, Professor Abdullahi Ahmed An-Na'im teaches courses in human rights, religion and human rights, Islamic law, and criminal law at Emory University School of Law in Atlanta, Georgia, where he is the Charles Howard Candler Professor of Law and director of the Religion and Human Rights Program. An-Naim is originally from Sudan, where he was greatly influenced by the Islamic reform movement of Mahmoud Mohamed Taha. Over the last decade, most of his scholarship has been devoted to two themes: the modernization of Shari’a and the cultural legitimization of human rights in Islamic societies. In this and current projects, he argues for a greater synergy between human rights, religion and secularism.
On the Web: 
This public lecture is presented by the Centre for Human Rights and Legal Pluralism at McGill University’s Faculty of Law. The John Peters Humphrey Lecture in Human Rights is an annual lecture series founded in 1988 to commemorate the 40th anniversary of the United Nations Universal Declaration of Human Rights, originally drafted by McGill Law Professor John Humphrey (B.C.L. 1928).

Contact Information

Cynthia Lee
Media Relations, McGill University
cynthia.lee [at]
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