Irwin Cotler to receive honorary doctorate from McGill University


Published: 29May2019

On May 30, 2019, Emeritus Professor the Honorable Irwin Cotler, P.C., O.C., O.Q. (BA’61, BCL’64), will receive a Doctor of Laws, honoris causa, and give the commencement address at the Faculty of Law’s convocation ceremony.

Irwin Cotler is a prominent and respected figure on the national and international stages. He completed his undergraduate and law degrees at McGill University, where he was a University Scholar, a member of the Student Executive Council (SEC), and president of the Law Students’ Association. He then completed his Master of Laws at Yale University and joined the McGill Faculty of Law as a professor shortly thereafter. Among other things, he served as the chair of InterAmicus, the McGill-based International Human Rights Advocacy Centre. In his work as an international human rights lawyer, Mr. Cotler represented some of the most notable political prisoners and activists of the 20th century.

Irwin Cotler was elected as the Member of Parliament for Mount Royal in 1999, serving in this role until 2015. He was appointed minister of justice and attorney general of Canada in 2003 by Prime Minister Paul Martin. In that role, he influenced legislation that has defined many facets of Canadian life.

Irwin Cotler was made an Officer of the Order of Canada in 1992 for his efforts as a human rights activist and a pioneer in the development of peace law. He is a recipient of both Queen Elizabeth II’s Golden and Diamond Jubilee Medals (in 2002 and 2012, respectively). In 2015, he became the first recipient of the Law Society of Upper Canada’s Human Rights Award, received the Sergei Magnitsky Human Rights Award, and founded the Raoul Wallenberg Centre for Human Rights in Montreal, which he chairs. In 2017, he was named an Officer of the Ordre national du Québec. He remains an active member of McGill’s Centre for Human Rights and Legal Pluralism.

“I am proud that McGill University is honouring Irwin Cotler’s many accomplishments in this way,” said Dean Robert Leckey. “He inspired generations of McGill Law students and his tireless devotion to human rights and the pursuit of justice are rightly a point of pride for the McGill community and all Canadians.”