Irwin Cotler
Irwin Cotler is Chair of the Raoul Wallenberg Centre for Human Rights, Emeritus Professor of Law at McGill University, former Minister of Justice and Attorney General of Canada, and longtime Parliamentarian.

An international human rights lawyer, Professor Cotler has served as Counsel to prisoners of conscience including Andrei Sakharov & Nathan Sharansky (former Soviet Union), Nelson Mandela (South Africa), Jacobo Timmerman (Latin America), Prof. Saad Eddin Ibrahim (Egypt) and he was Chair of the International Commission of Inquiry into the Fate and Whereabouts of Raoul Wallenberg. He is a Member of the International Legal Team of Chinese Nobel Peace Laureate Liu Xiaobo, and serves as international legal counsel to imprisoned Saudi blogger Raif Badawi, imprisoned Venezuelan democratic opposition leader Leopoldo López, and imprisoned Baha'i leadership in Iran. A feature article on him in Canada’s national magazine – Maclean’s – referred to him as “Counsel for the Oppressed”, while the Oslo Freedom Forum characterized him as “Freedom’s Counsel.”
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Entries by Irwin Cotler

We Must Protest Against Injustice Wherever It Appears

(1) Comments | Posted February 1, 2017 | 1:44 PM

In Elie Wiesel's classic memoir of Holocaust remembrance, Night -- which depicts the horrors of the Auschwitz concentration camp -- the Nobel Peace Prize laureate and Holocaust survivor wrote that "to forget would not only be dangerous but offensive; to forget the dead would be akin to killing them a...

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Canada Has The Power To Seek Saudi Blogger Raif Badawi's Freedom

(1) Comments | Posted November 9, 2016 | 3:40 PM

Last month, The UN Committee on the Rights of the Child called on Saudi Arabia to end its violations of children's human rights including "severe" discrimination against girls, executions by stoning, and torture through lashings and amputations.

The head of the Saudi Arabian delegation to the UN Committee --...

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Elie Wiesel: Conscience Of Humanity

(0) Comments | Posted July 11, 2016 | 2:17 PM

It is a humbling and moving moment to participate in this remembrance of Professor Elie Wiesel - where Elie Wiesel's life's work, indeed his life, is a source of learning and inspiration for us all. For we are here to remember, and celebrate the life of a tzaddik, an authentic...

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We Have A Responsibility To Prevent And Protect Against Genocide

(2) Comments | Posted May 19, 2016 | 4:24 PM

Recently the United Nations General Assembly marked the 22nd anniversary of the genocide in Rwanda, where one million Rwandans -- mostly ethnic Tutsis -- were murdered in less than 100 days. What makes the genocide in Rwanda so unspeakable is not only the horror of the genocide itself, but that...

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A Hero That Embodies The Universal Lessons Of The Holocaust

(2) Comments | Posted January 28, 2016 | 1:26 PM

International Holocaust Remembrance Day is a reminder of horrors too terrible to believe but not too terrible to have happened. This year, it marked the 71st anniversary of the liberation of Auschwitz, the most brutal extermination camp of the 20th century. From 1941 to 1944, 1.3 million people were murdered...

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10 Things Canada's Human Rights Policy Should Include

(3) Comments | Posted September 28, 2015 | 7:26 PM

Thus far, election discourse has been dominated by exchanges on the economy and related issues such as jobs, growth, taxes, and the like, and where the term "middle class" has become metaphor and message of that discourse. Accordingly, the Munk Debates on foreign policy are a welcome addition to the...

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Canada Must Take Action to Protect Human Rights in Bangladesh

(24) Comments | Posted May 1, 2015 | 1:28 PM

During the past few months, the House of Commons' Foreign Affairs Subcommittee on International Human Rights has heard testimony about the disturbing human rights violations occurring in Bangladesh. Witnesses have testified that ethnic minorities, particularly the indigenous peoples of the Chittagong Hill Tracts, are subject to severe discrimination...

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Women's Rights are Human Rights, So Let's Make a Change

(0) Comments | Posted March 9, 2015 | 6:53 PM

Yesterday, March 8, was International Women's Day. Since being designated by the United Nations in 1975, the day has provided an opportunity not only to celebrate achievements, but to come up with new strategies to address the most difficult challenges concerning women's rights.

Each March 8 has a theme. Following...

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Human Rights in Iran: Marginalized and Sanitized

(10) Comments | Posted February 10, 2015 | 5:53 PM

As P5+1 proceeds, it is important to appreciate that the prevention of a "nuclear breakout" capability is inextricably intertwined with the Iranian regime's ongoing massive repression of human rights.

Indeed, negotiations proceed while human rights violations in Iran continue unabated -- and have even intensified -- under the "moderate"...

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Auschwitz 70 Years Later: Universal Lessons for Our Time

(17) Comments | Posted January 27, 2015 | 12:54 PM

I write at an important moment of remembrance and reminder, of bearing witness, and of action.

Indeed, I write from Prague, where events commemorating the liberation of Auschwitz 70 years ago are underway as the world marks International Holocaust Remembrance Day. I write on the eve of the 70th anniversary...

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Canada, Hold China Accountable For Its Suppression of Human Rights

(20) Comments | Posted November 8, 2014 | 1:11 PM

Prime Minister Stephen Harper's trip to China is understandably engaged with Canada-China trade relations, investments, and -- in particular -- the hope to build closer economic ties with Canada's number two trading partner.

As well, on the eve of his trip, a senior government official was quoted...

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Why I Abstained From the ISIL vote

(26) Comments | Posted October 8, 2014 | 6:41 PM

For the last several weeks, Members of Parliament and the Canadians we represent have been seized with the genocidal incitement and mass atrocities committed by the violent extremist group known as ISIL. I know that my colleagues on both sides of the House have been horrified by ISIL's brutality and...

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Iran's President Continues to Violate Human Rights

(11) Comments | Posted September 18, 2014 | 6:54 PM

While Iranian President Rouhani pledged to usher in a new era of human rights for Iranians, the person held out as a "moderate" has presided over a regime that continues to engage in massive repression. As nuclear negotiations continue, so does the systematic and widespread violation of human rights in...

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In the War Between Israel and Gaza, Truth Was the First Casualty

(28) Comments | Posted August 11, 2014 | 12:51 AM

The notion that truth is the first casualty of war has found expression in the ongoing fog of the current Israel-Hamas conflict -- where truth is obscured or masked by oft-repeated clichés such as "cycle of violence," false moral equivalences, or unconscionable allegations of Israeli "genocide." If we want to...

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The Need for Moral Clarity on the Israel-Hamas War

(18) Comments | Posted July 29, 2014 | 6:23 PM

The latest Israeli-Hamas war, with its evocative images of human suffering, has engaged hearts and minds the world over, particularly in this digital age of social media and instant communication.

Indeed, the death of any innocent -- Israeli or Palestinian -- is a tragedy, and no one can fail to...

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We Must Go Beyond the Cycle of Violence in Gaza to Find Moral Clarity

(7) Comments | Posted July 28, 2014 | 2:39 PM

The latest Israeli-Hamas war, with its evocative images of human suffering, has engaged hearts and minds the world over, particularly in this digital age of social media and instant communication.

Indeed, the death of any innocent -- Israeli or Palestinian -- is a tragedy, and no one can fail to...

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Canada's Having a Prostitution Debate, Just Not an Informed One

(23) Comments | Posted June 3, 2014 | 1:37 PM

On Monday, the Government released a report on its consultations regarding Parliament's response to the Supreme Court decision last December striking down several prostitution-related offences in the Criminal Code. Regrettably, the information made available about the consultations raises more questions than it answers, and leads one to query...

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Rouhani Is No "Moderate" When it Comes to Human Rights

(0) Comments | Posted May 7, 2014 | 6:59 PM

Iranian President Hassan Rouhani repeatedly touts his commitment to "constructive engagement" with the international community, particularly as he negotiates a comprehensive nuclear agreement. Yet, as nuclear talks resume this week, the systematic and widespread violations of human rights in Iran continue unabated, overshadowed -- if not sanitized -- by the...

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Questions About Justice Marc Nadon Linger

(9) Comments | Posted May 6, 2014 | 1:41 PM

In Monday's question period, much of the back-and-forth concerned the insinuations from the Prime Minister's Office of wrongdoing on the part of the Chief Justice. Regrettably, as is too often the case in Question Period, there were few answers found in the responses of the government -- and that which...

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Invading Ukraine Is Bad, But so Is Putin's Treatment of Russians

(8) Comments | Posted May 5, 2014 | 2:06 PM

In response to Russian aggression in Ukraine, Canada has rightly imposed sanctions on Russian officials and banks -- as have many of our allies -- and Canadian jets and military personnel have been deployed to Eastern Europe. Regrettably, however, our response to the Putin regime's systemic and ongoing violations of...

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