Top jurist plans Wallenberg centre for human rights
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.
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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.”