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Law professor to receive LSO Human Rights Award

Monday, March 15, 2021 @ 12:40 PM | By John Chunn


The Law Society of Ontario (LSO) announced that human rights lawyer and legal scholar Payam Akhavan is the recipient of the LSO’s Human Rights Award. A virtual event will take place in June.

According to the LSO press release, established in 2013 and granted biennially, the award recognizes outstanding contributions to the advancement of human rights and/or the promotion of the rule of law provincially, nationally or internationally.

“This award is granted for devotion to the advancement of human rights and the rule of law over a long term or for a single outstanding act of service,” Law Society treasurer Teresa Donnelly said in the press release. “Professor Akhavan fits both criteria — many outstanding acts of service over decades of work. In his nomination materials he was described as: ‘A leading architect of the field of human rights and humanitarian justice. He leads by bridging the academic/practice divide.’ I am honoured to be able to grant him this award on behalf of the Law Society of Ontario.”

Akhavan is an international human rights lawyer and a member of the Permanent Court of Arbitration at The Hague. He is a member of the Law Society of Ontario (2012) and the bar of the state of New York.

The press release notes that he is recognized by his peers as an outstanding academic and exceptional advocate. Akhavan serves as a senior fellow of Massey College and Distinguished Visitor at the University of Toronto Faculty of Law. He was previously a law professor at McGill University, with other appointments at institutions including Université de Paris X (Nanterre), Oxford University and Yale Law School. In 2017, he was selected to deliver the CBC Massey Lectures.

Akhavan is also engaged in the practice of international law at the highest levels on behalf of victims of crimes against humanity. He served as a UN prosecutor and human rights officer in Bosnia-Herzegovina and Croatia during the Yugoslav war in the 1990s. He has also served as counsel in notable cases before the International Court of Justice, including the landmark 2019 Rohingya genocide case against Myanmar, as well as the International Criminal Court, the European Court of Human Rights and the Supreme Courts of Canada and the United States.