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.”