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Payam Akhavan

Professor of International Law, McGill University, Montreal, Canada

Payam Akhavan is Professor of International Law at McGill University in Montreal, Canada, and Visiting Fellow at Kellogg College, Oxford University. He was previously Senior Fellow at the European University Institute in Florence, SciencesPo in Paris, University of Toronto Faculty of Law, and at Yale Law School. He earned his Doctorate in International Law at Harvard Law School and among his numerous publications, "Beyond Impunity" in the American Journal of International Law (2001) was selected by the International Library of Law and Legal Theory as one of “the most significant published journal essays in contemporary legal studies.”

Payam Akhavan was the first Legal Advisor to the Prosecutor's Office of the International Criminal Tribunals for former Yugoslavia and Rwanda at The Hague, and served with the UN in Bosnia, Croatia, Cambodia, Timor Leste, Guatemala, and Rwanda. He has served as counsel and advocate in leadings cases before the International Court of Justice, the International Criminal Court, the Permanent Court of Arbitration, the European Court of Human Rights, and the Supreme Courts of Canada and the United States. He is also co-founder of the Iran Human Rights Documentation Centre and served as Prosecutor of the Iran People's Tribunal.

His work has been featured in BBC HARDtalk, the New York Times, Maclean's magazine, and CBC Radio's Ideas program.
Iran's Enduring Legacy of Violence and

Iran's Enduring Legacy of Violence and Denial

The political leadership must also consider the consequences of its actions in light of the fact that the cries of justice for these and other crimes will not be silenced without some form of accountability. How can the Iranian people have confidence in a government that places a symbol of injustice in charge of justice? A new generation of Iranian leaders must re-define the meaning of power. A man who beats his wife and children and then silences them when they complain is not a powerful man. He is a coward that cannot even admit his cowardice to himself. In the same manner, a leadership that imprisons, tortures, and executes its citizens, is not a powerful Government.
10/01/2013 05:52 EDT
How Iran Can Go From 'Pariah State' to 'Leader Among

How Iran Can Go From 'Pariah State' to 'Leader Among Nations'

The treatment of ethnic minorities is a fundamental question in building a stable, democratic, and prosperous Iran. But the question of ethnic minorities is not merely a problem to be solved; it is also an immense opportunity for a wise and just leadership to transform Iran from its current pariah status into a leader among nations. Embracing human rights and global interdependence is a necessity for Iran's survival and prosperity.
03/01/2013 08:13 EST
Don't Mistake Iran's Brutality For

Don't Mistake Iran's Brutality For Strength

Beyond doubt, this is the bloodiest period in Iran's contemporary history. A former political prisoner described how she was savagely beaten while six-months pregnant, while yet another spoke about a 14-year-old boy crying for his mother as the noose was put around his neck. Violence is often mistaken as a sign of strength. The exact contrary is true: Violence is the ultimate sign of weakness.
08/22/2012 07:54 EDT