René Provost awarded ICON-S book prize

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Published: 1 August 2022

The Faculty of Law is pleased to announce that Rebel Courts: The Administration of Justice by Armed Insurgents (Oxford University Press, 2021), by Professor René Provost, F.R.S.C., Ad. E., has received the 2022 ICON-S Book Prize. Awarded by the International Society of Public Law (ICON-S), this annual prize honours the best new publication in public law, construed broadly.  

In warzones, armed insurgents often replace the state as the provider of law and justice. In Rebel Courts, Professor Provost offers insight into this little-studied phenomenon. Based on extensive fieldwork, the book compares case studies of several non-state armed groups around the world. It argues that rules of public international law that regulate the conduct of war can be interpreted as authorizing the establishment of rebel courts by armed groups. When operating in a manner consistent with due process, rebel courts demand a certain degree of recognition by international states, institutions, and other non-state armed groups. “Rebel Courts combines sophisticated empirical analysis with rich theory, providing an excellent example of interdisciplinary research in the very spirit of ICON-S,” highlighted the ICON-S prize committee. 

A full professor at the McGill University Faculty of Law, René Provost is interested in human rights, international criminal law, the law of armed conflict, and the intersection of law and culture. In September 2015, he was awarded a fellowship by the Pierre Elliott Trudeau Foundation for the research that culminated in the publication of Rebel Courts. 

Professor Provost is principal investigator for the Unreserved Justice Project, a SSHRC-funded collaboration with Indigenous leaders from coast to coast to coast on the emerging practice in Canada of Indigenous communities establishing institutions and practices to administer justice on their territory. Grounded in the practices of Indigenous communities, the project integrates norms from Indigenous legal traditions, constitutional law, comparative law (Bolivia, Colombia, Scandinavia, USA), and international human rights law. 

“I am proud to see the International Society of Public Law honour the international significance of Professor Provost’s scholarship, which exemplifies our longstanding commitment to legal pluralism,” said Dean Robert Leckey. “His leading research is a shining example of McGill Law’s legal leadership in addressing challenges of global importance.”  

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