In search of a Better World: A Human Rights Odyssey

October 16, 2017 @ 12:00 pm – 1:00 pm
Moot Court Room, Robson Hall, 224 Dysart Rd, University of Manitoba, Winnipeg
Robson Hall
Winnipeg, MB R3T 2M8

Distinguished Visitors Series: Payam Akhavan, “In search of a Better World: A Human Rights Odyssey”

CBC’s 2017 Massey Lecturer


Professor Akhavan teaches and researches on public international law, international dispute settlement, international criminal law, human rights and cultural pluralism.  He received the degree of Doctor of the Science of Jurisprudence (SJD) from Harvard Law School and, prior to joining McGill, he was a Senior Fellow at Yale Law School, and a UN prosecutor at the International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia. In 2016, he was appointed a Member of the Permanent Court of Arbitration established under the 1899 Hague Convention on the Pacific Settlement of Disputes. In 2017, he will deliver the Massey Lectures (details and schedule here; the five lectures will run from September 13 to October 4 in five different Canadian cities). Please visit the McGill University Faculty of Law website for more biographical information about Professor Akhavan.

A work of memoir, history, and a call to action, “In Search of a Better World, the 2017 CBC Massey Lecture,” is a powerful and essential work on the major human rights struggles of our times.

In February of 2017, Amnesty International released their Annual Report for 2016 to 2017, concluding that the “us versus them” rhetoric increasingly employed by politicians is endangering human rights the world over. Renowned UN prosecutor and human rights scholar Payam Akhavan has encountered the grim realities of contemporary genocide throughout his life and career. He argues that deceptive utopias, political cynicism, and public apathy have given rise to major human rights abuses: from the religious persecution of Iranian Bahá’ís that shaped his personal life, to the horrors of ethnic cleansing in Yugoslavia, the genocide in Rwanda, and the rise of contemporary phenomena such as the Islamic State. But he also reflects on the inspiring resilience of the human spirit and the reality of our inextricable interdependence to liberate us, whether from hateful ideologies that deny the humanity of others or an empty consumerist culture that worships greed and self-indulgence.

A timely, essential, and passionate work of memoir and history, In Search of a Better World is a tour de force by an internationally renowned human rights lawyer.

Please visit the House of Anansi Press website for more information about this CBC Massey Lecture publication.