Irwin Cotler

Irwin Cotler is the Founder and Chair of the Raoul Wallenberg Centre for Human Rights, an Emeritus Professor of Law at McGill University, a former Member of Parliament, former Minister of Justice and Attorney General of Canada, and an international human rights lawyer.

A constitutional and comparative law scholar, Professor Cotler has intervened in landmark Charter of Rights cases in the areas of free speech, freedom of religion, minority rights, peace law and war crimes justice.

As Minister of Justice and Attorney General, Cotler crafted the Civil Marriage Act, the first-ever legislation to grant marriage equality to gays and lesbians; issued Canada’s first National Justice Initiative Against Racism and Hate; and quashed more wrongful convictions in a single year than any prior Minister.

A leading Parliamentarian on the global stage, he has been Chair of the Inter-Parliamentary Group for Human Rights in Iran; Chair of the Inter-Parliamentary Group of Justice for Sergei Magnitsky; Chair of the All-Party Save Darfur Parliamentary Coalition; Chair, Canadian section, of the Parliamentarians for Global Action and Member of its international council; and Chair of the first-ever Parliamentary Assembly for an International Criminal Court.

An international human rights lawyer, Professor Cotler has been an international legal counsel to imprisoned Saudi blogger Raif Badawi, Venezuelan former political prisoner Leopoldo López, and Shi’ite Cleric Ayatollah Boroujerdi 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.”

Speeches

Political Prisoners

The Political Pandemic: Resurgent Global Authoritarianism with Irwin Cotler

Professor Irwin Cotler, Chair of the Raoul Wallenberg Centre for Human Rights and former Minister of Justice and Attorney General of Canada, addresses the 13th Annual Geneva Summit for Human Rights and Democracy – see quotes below, followed by full prepared remarks. On rising authoritarianism: “We are witnessing…a global political

Our Responsibility to Political Prisoners with Irwin Cotler

Irwin Cotler, former Canadian Minister of Justice and MP and founder of the Raoul Wallenberg Center for Human Rights, addresses the 12th Geneva Summit for Human Rights and Democracy — see quotes below, followed by full prepared remarks. On Raoul Wallenberg: “One person with the compassion to care and the

Human Rights

Summit Wrap-up with Irwin Cotler

Irwin Cotler, Former Canadian Minister of Justice, MP and advocate for political prisoners, addresses the 10th Annual Geneva Summit for Human Rights and Democracy – see quotes below, followed by full prepared remarks. Summarising the work of the Geneva Summit: “This inspiring Geneva Summit has paid tribute to the commitment and courage

Human Rights

Opening Address with Irwin Cotler

Irwin Cotler, Founder and Chair of the Raoul Wallenberg Centre for Human Rights, addresses the 9th Annual Geneva Summit for Human Rights and Democracy – see quotes below, followed by full prepared remarks. On political prisoners:  “We have a responsibility to not only speak up but to act.” “It’s our responsibility

Political Prisoners

Opening Speech: Political Prisoners and The Legacy of Nelson Mandela with Irwin Cotler

Irwin Cotler, Founder and Chair of the Raoul Wallenberg Centre for Human Rights, Emeritus Professor of Law at McGill University, former Member of Parliament, former Minister of Justice and Attorney General of Canada, and international human rights lawyer, addresses the 6th Annual Geneva Summit for Human Rights and Democracy – see quotes