A World of Public Good

From the Spring 2000 issue of Nexus.

Two anonymous benefactors have made a significant gift to establish a Chair in International Human Rights Law at the law school.

The creation of a chair devoted to examining international human rights will greatly enhance the law school's curriculum in international human rights law, which is already one of the most comprehensive in Canada. Now in its eleventh year, the International Human Rights Programme offers a rich and diverse array of courses designed to develop competence in the analysis of and traditional legal inquiry about international human tights. One course takes place simultaneously in Singapore, Malaysia, Hong Kong, Finland, the United States, and Toronto through Internet-based communications technology. International law courses offered at the law school extend over comparative constitutional law, European Community law, international women's human rights law, and public international law.

The programme also enables selected students to gain practical, hands-on experience that may lead to a career in international human rights advocacy. Each year ten to fifteen upper-year and graduate students undertake ten-week internships at the United Nations and at non-governmental organizations all over the world. These internships allow students to test the ideas and perspectives they have obtained from the academic programme by immersing themselves in the work of real-world institutions. Some of these host organizations include the Amerindian Peoples Association (Guyana), the Constitutional Court of South Africa, the International Criminal Tribunal for the Former Yugoslavia (The Hague), and the International Federation of Women Lawyers (Kenya), among many others.

In addition to the internships, students can be active in a wide variety of human rights-related activities throughout the academic year, such as volunteer research and advocacy and contributions to the Bora Laskin Library's web site on human rights for women from a global perspective. The programme also sponsors conferences, speakers, and symposia on leading international human rights issues.

The Rebecca Cook Chair in International Human Rights Law will provide a core of academic scholarship in the expanding field of international human rights and will enhance the law school's position as a centre of international legal thought.