012 – Professor Irwin Cotler – The Top 5 Human Rights Violators of 2021

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

An international human rights lawyer, Professor Cotler has served as Counsel to prisoners of conscience including Andrei Sakharov & Nathan Sharansky (former Soviet Union), Nelson Mandela (South Africa), Jacobo Timmerman (Latin America), Professor Saad Eddin Ibrahim (Egypt) and he was Chair of the International Commission of Inquiry into the Fate and Whereabouts of Raoul Wallenberg. He was a Member of the International Legal Team of Chinese Nobel Peace Laureate Liu Xiaobo, and more recently became international legal counsel to imprisoned Saudi blogger Raif Badawi, Venezuelan political prisoner Leopoldo López, and Shi’ite Cleric Ayatollah Boroujerdi in Iran. 

He is the recipient of fourteen honorary doctorates, where he has been recognized as “a scholar and advocate of international stature” (as cited in his various honorary doctorates). He has been named an Officer of the Order of Canada, an Officer of the National Order of Quebec, and is the recipient also of the Queen Elizabeth II Diamond Jubilee Medal. He has been awarded the Canadian Bar Association’s President’s Award and was the first Canadian recipient of the International Raoul Wallenberg Foundation’s Centennial Medal.

He was elected 2014 Canadian Parliamentarian of the Year by his colleagues, and in 2015 received the Law Society of Upper Canada’s Inaugural Human Rights Award.

“The Honourable Irwin Cotler’s tireless efforts to ensure peace and justice for all. In his varied roles as law professor, constitutional and comparative law scholar, international human rights lawyer, counsel to prisoners of conscience, public intellectual, peace activist, Member of Parliament, and Minster of Justice and Attorney General of Canada, Mr. Cotler has been a leader and role model. Through his advocacy work both in Canada and internationally, he has transformed the lives of many.”

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