Top ju­rist plans Wal­len­berg cen­tre for hu­man rights

The Jewish Chronicle - - WORLD NEWS - BY DAVID LAZARUS

RENOWNED CANA­DIAN hu­man­rights lawyer Ir­win Cotler is plan­ning a cen­tre for In­ter­na­tional Jus­tice named af­ter his hero Raoul Wal­len­berg, the Swedish diplo­mat who saved thou­sands of Jews from cer­tain death dur­ing the Holo­caust.

Mr Cotler, 75, who re­tired as a mem­ber of par­lia­ment last month, en­vi­sions the in­sti­tute as “an in­ter­na­tional con­sor­tium of par­lia­men­tar­i­ans, schol­ars, ju­rists, hu­man rights de­fend­ers, NGOs, and stu­dents, all united in the pur­suit of jus­tice, in­spired by and an­chored in Wal­len­berg’s hu­man­i­tar­ian legacy.”

Mr Cotler has in his sights is­sues such as an­tisemitism, geno­cide and other forms of civil strife.

Famed for rep­re­sent­ing fig­ures such as Nel­son Man­dela and former Soviet “pris­oner of con­science” Natan Sha­ran­sky, Mr Cotler re­mains in­de­fati­ga­ble and is anx­ious to start work­ing on the new project.

He added thathe­hoped

Ir­win Cotler for col­lab­o­ra­tion with the UK. A land­mark 2009 con­fer­ence on an­tisemitism held in Lon­don and the dec­la­ra­tion that came out of it con­tin­ues to serve as “the best blueprint we have” for com­bat­ting Jew-hate, he said.

That event was fol­lowed by a con­fer­ence in Ot­tawa a year later and, his­tor­i­cally, the first pub­lic fo­rum on an­tisemitism ever held at the United Na­tions last Jan­uary. An­other con­fer­ence is slated for Ber­lin next March.

At the UN, Mr Cotler helped craft a res­o­lu­tion point­ing to the ap­palling growth of global an­tisemitism.

“I be­lieve the sit­u­a­tion re­gard­ing an­tisemitism is worse be­cause there is a whole new se­ries of met­rics,” he said. “The new an­tisemitism is an as­sault upon the right of Is­rael and the Jewish peo­ple to live among the fam­ily of na­tions.

“It in­cludes geno­ci­dal an­tisemitism, po­lit­i­cal an­tisemitism (the de­nial of Is­rael’s le­git­i­macy), and the de­mon­i­sa­tion of Is­rael as the em­bod­i­ment of all evil.” Out­side that sphere, Mr Cotler has con­tin­ued to speak out about the hu­man­i­tar­ian catas­tro­phe tak­ing place in Syria.

“The fail­ure to in­ter­vene has re­sulted in 12.5 mil­lion dis­placed peo­ple, 250,000 dead, and over four mil­lion refugees, a hu­manit a r i a n c a t a s - t r o p h e o f un­be­liev­able pro­por­tions.”

PHOTO: GETTY IMAGES

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