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The Way Forward for Responsibility to Protect

The Canadian Lawyers Association for International Human Rights (CLAIHR) and the International Law Students Association (ILSA) University of Ottawa Chapters hosted the 8th Annual Global Generations Conference on February 24th in Ottawa. This year’s conference title “The Way Forward – The Promise of R2P” was selected to recognize the 10th anniversary of the International Commission on Intervention and State Sovereignty’s (ICISS) Report on the Responsibility to Protect (R2P) and Canada’s Canada’s important role in the creation of this doctrine.

The conference featured student presentations and a panel of experts whose current work engages with the responsibility to protect, including former Canadian Ambassador to the UN, Allan Rock, PC.

To learn more about the conference please read an article published in Canadian Lawyers Magazine 4 Students.

By |March 5th, 2012|News Releases, Student News|

Michael Ignatieff on Responsibility to Protect

2011 – CLAIHR Symposium Commemorating the 10th Anniversary of the Responsibility to Protect
Topic: Responsibility to Protect
Speaker: Michael Ignatieff

Some highlights of his discussion: Canada has an extraordinary reputation in relation to International Law. Some of Canada’s most significant contributions to International Law have been in the area of Human Rights, including the Responsibility to Protect (R2P) doctrine.

We would like to thank our generous event sponsors:
Torys LLP
Hull & Hull LLP
Koskie Minsky LLP

We would also like to thank our silent auction prize contributors:
Biljana K. Carter
Deb Mazer
The Mad Bean
La Salumeria

See Professor Ignatieff’s address here:

Watch Professor Ignatieff answer important questions about the doctrine:
By |November 15th, 2011|Past Events|

Responsibility to Protect

CLAIHR strongly supports and promotes the use of the doctrine of Responsibility to Protect (R2P”).  The R2P doctrine is the result of a report of the International Commission on Intervention and State Sovereignty, in which Canada played a central role under the direction of our then Ambassador to the United Nations, Hon. Allan Rock.   2011 has seen R2P come to the fore in discussions about how Canada and other nations should respond to the great number of internal conflicts the world has witnessed this year alone.  2011 is also the 10th anniversary of this important development in international law.  CLAIHR is proud to be the only Canadian member of the International Coalition for the Responsibility to Protect.

R2P Symposium

CLAIHR is commemorating the 10th anniversary of the R2P with a year-long symposium.  Our opening event featured Michael Ignatieff at Hart House in Toronto on October 26, 2011.  Professor Ignatieff discussed Canada’s role in international R2P operations and diplomacy and where he sees our future as a nation on the world stage.  

Coming Up September 27, 2012 – To close the symposium, CLAIHR is proud to present a panel discussion entitled, ” Perspectives on Intervention” in Toronto. Panelists who have first hand experience with international intervention will share their insights. Senator Romeo Dallaire will share his experiences and perspectives on intervention from the vantage point being on the ground in Rwanda as part of the UN Mission during the genocide of 1994. Senator Eggleton will share his thoughts from his perspective as the Minister of Defence during the NATO intervention in Kosovo in 1999. Return back to this page for more details on this event as they become available.

What is R2P?

The main concept underlying R2P is that the traditional approach of humanitarian intervention was too blunt a tool to address situations of internal strife causing humanitarian crises.  As a more modern approach and with greater deference to state sovereignty, R2P has three pillars:

1) The State bears the primary responsibility to protect its populations from mass atrocities;

2) The international community has a responsibility to assist States in protecting their populations; and

3) When the State is unwilling or unable to protect their populations, and on a case by case basis, the international community has a responsibility to take collective action in a timely and decisive manner in order to provide protection to the population affected.

Under the third pillar, the international community has a number of options at its disposal aside from military intervention such as preventative diplomacy, fact finding missions, economic sanctions and embargoes and military operations such as no-fly zones, monitoring and civilians defence missions.  Importantly, military measures under this third pillar must be authorized by the U.N. Security Council and only when peaceful measures have proved inadequate.  Humanitarian intervention, however, is not authorized under this third pillar as it is defined as unauthorized coercive action (unilateral or multilateral). Moreover, humanitarian intervention has not been endorsed as a norm by member states of the U.N.

R2P Events

On October 20 and 21  the Montreal Institute for Genocide and Human Rights Studies at Concordia University will be holding an important conference to mark the 10th anniversary of the Responsibility to Protect (R2P).

On November 12, the Canadian Centre for Responsibility to Protect will be hosting a conference, Ten Years after ICISS: Reflections for the Past and Future of R2P, commemorating the 10th anniversary of R2P.

By |September 21st, 2011|Our Work|

CLAIHR Presents Michael Ignatieff October 26, 2011

Michael IgnatieffCLAIHR is launching its year-long symposium marking the 10-year anniversary of the Responsibility to Protect (R2P) doctrine at our kick off event with Michael Ignatieff on October 26, 2011 from 6:30 to 8:30 PM in the Music Room at Hart House. Professor Ignatieff will be speaking about this important doctrine, which governs the way the world responds to international crisis situations as an alternative to the more traditional humanitarian intervention model. The Responsibility to Protect doctrine is a Canadian idea, which asserts that if a government is unable or unwilling to protect its own people, or if a government is responsible for ethnic cleansing or massacres, than other countries should step in and help.

Michael Ignatieff is well known in Canada as being the former leader of the Liberal Party, however, he also played an integral role in the formulation of this doctrine. In 2001, Professor Ignatieff was a member of the International Commission on Intervention and State Sovereignty (ICISS), which released its report on the Responsibility to Protect in 2001. The event will allow attendees to ask Professor Ignatieff questions about R2P and how Canada fits into the global landscape in R2P actions such as crisis in Libya, Syria or other conflict zones, now and into the future.

CLAIHR is proud to present this cocktail reception in conjunction with the newly established University of Toronto student chapter.

This event is sponsored by Torys.

Torys Logo

Follow CLAIHR on twitter at @CLAIHR for updates on future events in this symposium.

By |September 9th, 2011|News Releases|


CLAIHR will be holding it’s Annual General Meeting on July 12 at 6:00 PM for the purpose of reviewing its financial statements for the past fiscal year.  The meeting will be held at 1 Queen Street East, Suite 1620 in Toronto and all current members are invited to attend.


By |July 12th, 2011|Uncategorized|

CLAIHR joins International Coalition for R2P

CLAIHR is proud to announce its recent membership in the International Coalition for the Responsibility to Protect. CLAIHR is the first Canadian NGO to join the international coalition and we  look forward to working with this global network to further promote the principles of the Responsibility to Protect.   The Responsibility to Protect provides a framework to determine when outside intervention is required in domestic crises so that the international community can provide protection to civilians when their government is unable or unwilling to do so.  As part of our commitment to the principles of R2P, CLAIHR will continue its work in education and awareness raising for this important international legal norm in the Canadian context.

By |May 18th, 2011|Uncategorized|

Queen’s Law CLAIHR Documentary Film Festival

Members of the Queen’s CLAIHR team (from left): Kristen Allen, Chantel Levy, Allan McGavin, Brittany Sargent, Christine Dowling, Nicole Walton, Natasha Engineer, Courtenay Simmons

Over March 18 and 19, 2011 the Queen’s University CLAIHR and Canadian Lawyers Abroad Student Chapters hosted CLAIHR’s 9th Annual International Human Rights Film Festival. The theme of this year’s festival was Children’s Rights.

Students screened three documentaries, on children in India, child soldiers in rural Uganda, and the challenges faced by youth in the Jane & Finch area in Toronto.

Saturday morning panel for “Uganda’s Haunted Children” (from left): Professor Stanley Corbett, Professor Melanie Adrian, Dr. Walter Dorn, Professor Darryl Robinson

After each film we hosted speakers.  We welcomed Katherine Fournier from Beyond Borders and Catherine McKenna, Co-founder and Executive Director for Canadian Lawyers Abroad, Dr. Walter Dorn, a professor at Royal Military College in Kingston and at the Canadian Forces College in Toronto, Melanie Adrian, professor at Carleton University, and Queen’s Law professors Stan Corbett and Darryl Robinson.

Saturday afternoon panel for “Lost in the Struggle” (from left): Leanne Wight, Professor Nicholas Bala, Daren Dougall, The Honourable Landon Pearson, Saadya Hamdani

Our Saturday panel included the Hon. Landon Pearson, a long-time advocate for the rights and well-being of children, Saadya Hamdani, Advocacy Specialist at UNICEF, Daren Dougall, Executive Director of the Youth Diversion Program in Kingston, Queen’s Law Professor Nicholas Bala, and Leanne Wight, the Supervisory Duty Counsel at the Family Court in Kingston.

Queen’s CLAIHR hosted almost 140 attendees at the two day festival, raising $230.43 for the World Food Program in North Africa.

By |April 4th, 2011|Student News|

Van Breda Intervention at the SCC

The Supreme Court of Canada granted leave to appeal in two cases from the Ontario Court of Appeal concerning two Ontario residents who were injured or killed while on vacation in Cuba in the case of Club Resorts v. Van Breda.  The court heard arguments on the ability of a court to hear a case in which the defendant and the injuries were located outside of Canada.  CLAIHR, along with Amnesty International and the Canadian Centre for International Justice (CCIJ) were given intervenor status together to make arguments at the Supreme Court.  This case was of interest to CLAIHR, CCIJ and Amnesty as it raised the issue of the forum of necessity jurisdiction, which is vitally important for victims of human rights abuses abroad who wish to commence legal actions in Canada.  This jurisdiction is an emerging concept in private international law where litigants may bring actions in tort proceedings involving foreign defendants and extraterritorial events.  The recognition of this jurisdiction would allow Canadian courts to hear proceedings that could not possibly have been instituted elsewhere.   This jurisdiction provides potential litigants with greater access to justice for crimes where legal recourse has traditionally been virtually impossible such as civil claims relating to egregious human rights violations.  With the recognition of the forum of necessity, Canada would allow plaintiffs who cannot return to the country where the harm occurred, without risking their lives or further injury, to institute civil proceedings against the perpetrators in Canadian courts.

The Ontario Court of Appeal recognized this jurisdiction in limited cases and CLAIHR along with the CCIJ and Amnesty International are seeking confirmation of this approach.  While the Van Breda case does not involve human rights issues, it raises this important issue of jurisdiction that could be a very important tool in assisting victims of human rights violations to find justice in Canada.

CLAIHR, together with the Canadian Centre for International Justice (CCIJ) and Amnesty International, were granted intervenor status by the Supreme Court of Canada in the Van Breda case and made oral arguments at the Supreme Court on March 21, 2011.  CLAIHR urged the Supreme Court to confirm the decision of the Ontario Court of Appeal in recognizing the forum of necessity jurisdiction so that victims of international crimes such as torture, war crimes and other serious international offences can seek justice through the civil courts in Canada so long as the plaintiff has some connection with the Canadian jurisdiction of the court.

CLAIHR is represented pro bono by Dr. François Larocque of the University of Ottawa and Mark Power of Heenan Blaikie LLP.

Click here for the decision of the Ontario Court of Appeal.

By |March 21st, 2011|News Releases, Our Work|

Prosecution of Désiré Munyaneza

Trial Update

Following his conviction, Mr. Munyaneza appealed both the conviction and his sentence.  CLAIHR, with the Canadian Centre for International Justice (CCIJ), has brought a motion to intervene on appeal.  The hearing of this motion is expected to be held in the Fall of 2011.

CLAIHR is represented pro bono by Mr. Fred Headon.

Read the judgment

In the News

McGill Tribune
The Agenda with Steve Paikin


Désiré Munyaneza, born in 1966, is a Rwandan man being prosecuted in Montreal for crimes committed during the Rwandan genocide in 1994. This case is notable as this is the first person to be arrested in Canada on charges of war crimes and crimes against humanity for his alleged role in the 1994 Rwandan Genocide.

By |January 15th, 2011|Our Work|

CLAIHR Newsletter First Quarter 2010


By |January 14th, 2011|Publications|