Objectives, Mission and History
A key objective of the Centre is to deepen transdisciplinary collaboration on the complex social, ethical, political and philosophical dimensions of human rights.
The current Centre initiative builds upon the human rights legacy and enormous scholarly engagement found in the Universal Declartion of Human Rights.
See the First Draft of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights [.doc] handwritten and then annotated by John Humphrey.
The mission of the Centre includes:
- To advance innovative research on human rights and the role of law in a legally plural world;
- To enrich the nexus of scholarship and teaching by engaging undergraduate and graduate students in human rights research projects, human rights internships, international clerkships and advanced scholarship;
- To communicate research results and provide a forum for the exchange of ideas through scholarly publications, public conferences, seminars, and workshops.
Created in September 2005, the Centre for Human Rights and Legal Pluralism was formed to provide students, professors and the larger community with a locus of intellectual and physical resources for engaging critically with the ways in which law affects some of the most compelling social problems of our modern era, most notably human rights issues.
Since then, the Centre has distinguished itself by its innovative legal and interdisciplinary approach. This was ensured by the cultural and academic diversity among its members. These members come from the Faculty of Law, the Department of Political Science, the Geography Department, the School of Social Work; and the Faculty of Education at McGill, as well as the Department of Sociology at Concordia. The Centre houses some of the world’s leading experts in international criminal law, comparative law, constitutional law, and legal theory.
Centre members have been extensively involved in research and scholarship on international and domestic human rights law, humanitarian law, comparative constitutional protection of human rights, and theoretical and historical approaches to human rights in a legally plural world. Some have been appointed to human rights monitoring and implementation bodies at the national and international levels, and are active in public policy work in collaboration with government. The primary domains of research of the Centre include: Violence: Prevention and Redress; Equality and Social Diversity; Migration and Mobility, Health and Human Rights Economic Justice; Theoretical Approaches to Human Rights, Governance and Legal Pluralism.
The Centre organizes a series of annual public lectures on human rights including the Humphrey Lecture series, the Cassin Lectures, the Wallenberg Lectures, and the Litvack Awards and Lectures. The Centre also runs many workshops, often in conjunction with diverse student groups (See Events).
Since October 2007, the Centre has hosted three global conferences on human rights, which bring scholars, human rights activists, policy-makers, young leaders, students and citizens together to examine major human rights challenges in our global community Echenberg Conferences).
The Centre for Human Rights and Legal Pluralism builds on the legacy of enormous scholarly engagement with human rights at the Faculty of Law at McGill. Rooted in the Faculty’s fundamental and overarching mission in legal traditions, comparative law, and legal pluralism, the priority of human rights reflects McGill’s distinctive strengths in understanding law as a social phenomenon that transcends territory and state-based institutions. The Faculty currently offers approximately fifteen courses centred specifically on issues of human rights and social diversity. Moreover, human rights and cultural diversity is also an area of concentration within the Graduate Law Program. The Centre, therefore, provides an important source of enrichment to course-based learning on human rights.
In 2012, the Centre made significant progress to better position McGill as a central international hub for research and programs on human rights. The Centre’s activities are not only directed towards staff and students at the Faculty of Law; its lectures and conferences are attended by students and faculty from other disciplines as well as the public at large.
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