Open letter signed by 101 experts supporting Bill C-262

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Honourable Senators,

On May 30, 2018, the House of Commons passed Bill C-262. Indigenous peoples and individuals, leaders, and human rights experts hailed this historic event as a victory for the human rights of Indigenous peoples in Canada. We are 101 experts and academics who research and work in the fields of Indigenous, human rights, constitutional law and/or international law. We are glad that Bill C-262 has finally been referred to Committee, 11 months after its adoption by the House of Commons. We urge you to proceed swiftly so that it can be passed and become part of Canadian lawbefore the current session of Parliament ends.

Worldwide, Indigenous peoplesare amongst the world’s most disadvantaged and victimized peoples. Theysharecommon problems related to the protection of their rights as distinct peoples and suffer widespread discrimination at various levels.  On September 13, 2007, the United Nations General Assembly held a historic vote to adopt the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples. Canada, as you are aware, was initially opposed to the Declaration; it based its arguments on extraordinary and erroneous claims, for which no credible legal rationale has been provided. We are concerned that similar misguided claims or apprehensions continue to be used by some Senators to justify opposition and slow the progress of the bill in the Senate.

Bill C-262’s full title is: “An Act to ensure that the laws of Canada are in harmony with the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples”.  It is a basic, bottom-line piece of legislation that does notcreate new rights. It establishes a process for the government, in full partnership with Indigenous peoples, to achieve implementation of the Declaration in Canadian law. It does so in three ways.

  • First, Bill C-262 affirms the Declaration as a universal international human rights instrument with application in Canadian law. This is consistent with the fact that the UN Declaration already has legal effect in Canada and can be used by Canadian courts and tribunals to interpret Canadian laws.
  • Second, the Bill requires the government to work with Indigenous peoples to review existing laws and bring forward reforms to ensure their consistency with the Declaration.
  • Third, Bill C-262 creates a legislative framework for the federal government to collaborate with Indigenous peoples to establish a national action plan for the implementation of the Declaration.

Honourable Senators, the recognition of the human rights of Indigenous peoples works to strengthen human rights for everyone. The provisions in the UN Declaration were developed based on existing standards in international law. Many are already legally binding on Canada, either because they are part of customary international law, or because they are necessary to fulfil obligations under the human rights treaties that Canada has ratified.

The UN Declaration does not create a hierarchy of competing human rights claims. It is absolutely false, as some have claimed, that it gives Indigenous peoples a veto over, for example, development projects. It requires States to consult and cooperate in good faith with indigenous peoples in order to obtain their free, prior and informed consent before adopting and implementing legislative or administrative measures that may affect them. Respect for free, prior and informed consent is an essential standard in international law and can already be used by Canadian courts and tribunals as a source of interpretation of Canadian laws, including the Constitution, where Indigenous rights are at stake. The UN Declaration provides for comprehensive balancing provisions. It reaffirms what international and Canadian law already acknowledge: the human rights and fundamental freedoms of all must be respected, but limitations may be necessary in a democratic society. Limitations are possible if they are non-discriminatory and strictly necessary for the purpose of securing due recognition and respect for the rights and freedoms of others. Bill C-262 only reinforces this essential attribute of human rights law.

The UN Declaration offers a framework to enhance harmonious and cooperative relations between theState and Indigenous peoples, “in accordance with the principles of justice, democracy, respect for human rights, equality, non-discrimination, good governance and good faith”. These are the core principles and values of not only Canada’s Constitution, but also the international system that Canada has championed.

The Declaration is a universal human rights instrument. It is also a consensus instrument that has been reaffirmed seven times by the UN General Assembly. No State in the world formally objects to it. Bill C-262 provides a much-needed framework to ensure that Canada works in cooperation with Indigenous peoples to see it fully and effectively implemented.Honourable Senators, you have the power and privilege to make a crucial step in Canada’s pathway to reconciliation, but also to reaffirm Canada’s true commitment to human rights for all. We urge you to proceed swiftly with Bill-C-262.


Bernard Duhaime


Faculty of Political Science and Law, Université du Québec à Montréal (UQAM)


Beverly Jacobs

Assistant Professor

Windsor Law

Mohawk Nation of the Haudenosaunee (Iroquois) Confederacy, Bear Clan


Fannie Lafontaine

Full Professor

Faculty of Law, Université Laval

Canada Research Chair on International Criminal Justice and Human Rights



Payam Akhavan

Full Professor

McGill University


Merle Alexander


Miller Titerle Law Corporation

Board Member of University of Victoria


Reem Bahdi

Associate Professor

Windsor Law


Bev Baines


Faculty of Law, Queen’s University


Nicole A. Barrett

Director, International Justice and Human Rights Clinic

Executive Director, Allard Prize Initiatives

Peter A. Allard School of Law, The University of British Columbia


Stéphanie Bernstein


Département des sciences juridiques, Faculté de science politique et de droit, Université du Québec à Montréal


Amar Bhatia

Assistant Professor

Osgoode Hall Law School, York University


Andrée Boisselle

Associate Professor

Osgoode Hall Law School,York University


Dr. Robyn Bourgeois

Assistant Professor

Centre for Women’s and Gender Studies, Brock University


Bruce Broomhall


Department of Law, University of Quebec at Montreal


Julia Brown


Olthuis, Kleer, Townshend LLP


Ruth M. Buchanan


Osgoode Hall Law School


Michael Byers

Professor & Canada Research Chair in Global Politics and International Law

University of British Columbia


Pascal Calarco

University Librarian

University of Windsor


Angela Cameron, PhD

Associate Professor

Shirley Greenberg Professor of Women in the Legal Profession

Faculty of Law, University of Ottawa


Pascale Chapdelaine

Associate Professor

Faculty of Law, University of Windsor


Gordon Christie

Professor & Director of Indigenous Legal Studies

University of British Columbia


Lynda Collins

Full Professor

Faculty of Law, University of Ottawa


William E. Conklin

Professor of Law, F.R.S.C.

Windsor Law


Charles-Emmanuel Côté

Full Professor

Faculty of Law, Université Laval


François Crépeau

Full professor

McGill University

Hans & Tamar Oppenheimer Chair in Public International Law

Dr. Emma Cunliffe

Associate Professor

Peter A Allard School of Law, The University of British Columbia,


Annette L. Demers

Law Librarian

University of Windsor

Faculty of Law


Karen Drake

Associate Professor

Osgoode Hall Law School, York University


Mark Ebert


Semaganis Worme Lombard


Doris Farget


Département des sciences juridiques, Université du Québec à Montréal


Karine Gentelet

Associate Professor

Université du Québec en Outaouais


Leah George-Wilson


Miller Titerle Law Corporation

Chief of Tsleil-Waututh Nation


Amanda Ghahremani

International Lawyer & Consultant

Former Legal Director of the Canadian Centre for International Justice


Michael Heine

Director, International Centre for Olympic Studies

School of Kinesiology, Western University


Sakej Henderson

Research Fellow

Wiyasiwewin Mikiwahp

(Native Law Centre of Canada)


Jeffery Hewitt

Assistant Professor

Faculty of Law, University of Windsor


Felix Hoehn

Assistant Professor

College of Law, University of Saskatchewan


Shin Imai

Professor Emeritus

Osgoode Hall Law School


Mylène Jaccoud


École de criminologie, Université de Montréal


Paul Joffe



Julie Kaye

Assistant Professor of Sociology

University of Saskatchewan


N. Kate Kempton


Olthuis Kleer Townshend LLP


Mark Kersten


Munk School of Global Affairs and Public Policy


Nancy Kleer


Olthuis, Kleer, Townshend LLP


Jennifer Koshan


Faculty of Law, University of Calgary


Harry LaForme

Senior counsel

Olthuis Kleer Townshend, Toronto, Ontario

Anishinabe, Mississaugas of the Credit First Nation, Ontario


Marie Lamensch

Project Coordinator

Montreal Institute for Genocide and Human Rights Studies, Concordia University


Louis-Philippe Lampron

Full Professor

Faculty of Law, Université Laval


François J Larocque, PhD

Full Professor

University of Ottawa

Canadian Francophonie Research Chair in Language Rights


Yvan Guy Larocque


Miller Titerle Law Corporation


Nick Leeson




Janine Lespérance

Legal Counsel

Lawyer Without Borders Canada


Vicki Leung

Reference Librarian

University of Windsor


Anne Levesque

Assistant Professor (July 2019)

Faculty of Law – Common Law section, University of Ottawa


Dr. Grace Li Xiu Woo, LL.D

Author of Ghost Dancing with Colonialism


Ryan Liss

Assistant Professor

Faculty of Law, Western University


Constance MacIntosh

Viscount Bennett Professor of Law

Acting Associate Director, Dalhousie Health Law Institute

Associate Professor, Schulich School of Law, Dalhousie University


Jason MacLean

Assistant Professor

University of Saskatchewan College of Law


Dr. Kent McNeil

Distinguished Research Professor

Osgoode Hall Law School, York University, Toronto


Naiomi Metallic

Assistant Professor of Law; Chancellor’s Chair in Aboriginal Law and Policy

Schulich School of Law


Sarah Miller

Limited Term Librarian, Law

Diana M. Priestly Law Library, University of Victoria


Shaunna Mireau

Legal Information Specialist

Shaunna Mireau Consulting


Helen Mok

Supervisor, Library & Information Services

Blake, Cassels & Graydon LLP


Geneviève Motard

Associate Professor

Faculté de droit, Université Laval


Dr. Maureen Muldoon

Associate Professor

Faculty of Arts, Humanities and Social Sciences, University of Windsor


Tamara Napoleon


Miller Titerle Law Corporation


Val Napoleon


Faculty of Law, University of Victoria


Alex Neve

Secretary General

Amnesty International Canada (English branch)


Nicole O’Byrne, Ph.D.

Associate Professor

Faculty of Law, University of New Brunswick


Obiora Chinedu Okafor


Osgoode Hall Law School of York University, Toronto


Darlene R. Okemaysim-Sicotte

Co-Chair Iskwewuk Ewichiwitochik

Party With Standing with National Inquiry to Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women and Girls


John A Olthuis


Olthuis/ Kleer /Townshend, Barristers and Solicitors, Toronto


Valerie Oosterveld

Associate Professor

Faculty of Law, Western University


Frederick John Packer

Associate Professor of Law and Director, Human Rights Research and Education Centre

University of Ottawa


Me Pascal Paradis

Directeur général

Lawyers Without Borders Canada


Victoria Paraschak


Department of Kinesiology


Elisabeth Patterson


Dionne Schulze


Antoine Pellerin

Assistant Professor

Faculty of Law, Université Laval


Johanne Poirier


Faculty of Law, McGill University


Richard J. Preston

Professor Emeritus

McMaster University


Catherine Savard

Assistant coordinator

Canadian Partnership for International Justice


Tim Quigley

Professor of Law (Emeritus)

University of Saskatchewan


Dr Sara Ramshaw

Associate Professor

Faculty of Law, University of Victoria


Jean Roath

Administrative Assistant

Windsor University Faculty Association (WUFA)


Craig Scott

Professor of Law

Osgoode Hall Law School of York University


Dayna Nadine Scott

York Research Chair in Environmental Law & Justice in the Green Economy

Associate Professor, Osgoode Hall Law School and the Faculty of Environmental Studies, York University


Sara Seck

Associate Professor

Schulich School of Law, Dalhousie University


Elizabeth Sheehy, LLB, LLM, LLD (hons), F.R.S.C.

Professor Emerita of Law

University of Ottawa


Colleen Sheppard


Faculty of Law, McGill University


Penelope Simons

Associate Professor

Faculty of Law – Common Law section, University of Ottawa


James G. Stewart

Associate Professor

Allard Law School, University of British Columbia


Érick Sullivan

Lawyer, Deputy Director

International Criminal and Humanitarian Law Clinic, Law Faculty, Université Laval


Dr. Lina Sunseri

Associate Professor

Brescia University College


Marie-Eve Sylvestre

Full professor

Faculty of Law – Civil Law section, University of Ottawa


Alain-Guy Tachou Sipowo


McGill University, Université Laval, Université de Sherbrooke


Sophie Thériault

Full professor

University of Ottawa, Faculty of Law – Civil Law section


Marion Vacheret

Full Professor

École de criminologie, Université de Montréal


Lucinda A. Vandervort

Professor of Law

University of Saskatchewan


Christine Vézina

Assistant Professor

Université Laval


Christopher Waters

Dean and Professor

University of Windsor, Faculty of Law


Jo-Anne Wemmers


École de criminologie, Université de Montréal


Peter Zimmerman

Archives, Rare Books, and Special Collections Librarian

Leddy Library, University of Windsor

President, Windsor University Faculty Association

ICC Legal Tools Project

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At the Canadian level, CPIJ coordinates this project initiated by the International Criminal Court to provide users around the world with a comprehensive virtual database of information and analysis related to international criminal law and justice.

The Legal Tools Project is a collection of legal information, digests and software that will enable users to work with international criminal law from wherever they are. The Canadian partners for the project are CCIJ, La Clinique de droit international pénal et humanitaire de l’Université de Laval, the Human Rights Research and Education Centre at the University of Ottawa and the University of Ottawa Faculty of Law – Common Law Section.

Three Main Components

The Legal Tools Database is a free, fully searchable database of information related to international criminal law, including domestic legislation and case law.

The Case Matrix is an application that aims to provide a body of knowledge and expertise to help those in the legal community dealing with cases involving core international crimes.

It provides users with a source of legal reference and analysis; it incorporates relevant information from the Legal Tools Database and provides access to the Elements Digest, Proceedings Digest and Means of Proof Digest.

It also acts as a database to organize and present information and evidence in cases involving core international crimes, providing an overview of the evidentiary status of a case at various stages (investigation, trial, appeal, judicial review).

The Case Matrix further provides a “User’s Guide” on how to prove international crimes through various modes of liability.

Finally the Project aims to develop a Case Matrix Network, to accompany the Case Matrix, to strengthen the ability of national jurisdictions to investigate and prosecute international crimes.

For more information, please visit the ICC Legal Tools Project website.

Valérie Meehan

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Valérie Meehan is completing her Master degree on reconciliation between indigenous and non-indigenous people in Canada, at the School of Criminology in Montreal. Her research interests include law enforcement, transitional justice and indigenous issues. She is also teaching assistant of the summer school International Justice and Victim’s Rights directed by Professor Jo-Anne Wemmers. She is also working part-time at the Institut universitaire sur les dépendances, Montreal, as a research assistant on studies addressing harm reduction and services offered to people living with opioid addictions. Prior to starting her Master, she obtained a Bachelor degree with distinction in Security and Police Studies from the School of Criminology, Université de Montréal. She also worked several years for the Royal Canadian Mounted Police’s criminal intelligence analysis, focusing on national and international level investigations.

Participate to the International Justice and Victims’ Rights Summer School!

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The Canadian Partnership for International Justice organizes the International Justice and Victims’ Rights summer school, which will be held in Montreal from June 4 to June 9 2018. This event will bring together internationally renowed experts and human rights organizations in order to discuss and reflect on issues surrounding victims’ rights and international justice. The development of enforceable rights for victims, notably by the ICC, has created a new reality in which those who work with victims are increasingly obliged to understand the victims’s rights and needs. However, currently, a lot of law students and professionals lack training concerning victimology and victims’ rights. Suck a knowledge is essential to ensure evolving victims’ rights stay connected with victims’ needs and do not develop into empty legal concepts that are detached from victims’ needs.

This course serves to train and engage students and professionals in the areas of law, criminology, and related disciplines in key issues regarding the rights of victims of crime and abuse of power. Topics include reparation of victims of crimes against humanity, addressing the needs of victims of sexual violence in the courts, how courts handle victims who at the same time are perpetrators, as well as the place of victims in transitional justice.

This week long course consists of daily lectures by experts. Each day there are two lectures: one in the morning and one in the afternoon. Lectures last one hour and thirty minutes and are followed by a break and a discussion period. In addition, a visit to the Raoul Wallenberg Center and a meeting with a representative from the Canadian Center for International Justice are scheduled. Please note that the school is bilingual (French-English). Students are expected to be fluent in French or English and to have at least a passive understanding of the other language.

The week program is available here.

UN Working Group on Business and Human Rights Consultation on Gender and the UN Guiding Principles on Business and Human Rights

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November 2017 – CPIJ Researcher Penelope Simons (Faculty of Law, University of Ottawa) presented at a multi-stakeholder consultation on “The Gender Lens to the UN Guiding Principles on Business and Human Rights” on November 30, 2017, at the Palais des Nations in Geneva Switzerland. The consultation was convened by the UN Working Group on Business and Human Rights (UNWGBH). It brought together business and human rights scholars, representatives from non-governmental organizations, members of the UNWGBHR and OHCHR staff for a full day of discussions on how to bring considerations of gender to the implementation of the UN Guiding Principles on Business and Human Rights by businesses and States. Business activities can have differentiated impacts on the human rights of women and women often encounter discrimination and other obstacles in gaining access to effective remedies for business-related human rights abuses. The document related to this consultation and pictures of this day are available.

The Canadian Partnership for International Justice is attending the 16th Assembly of States Parties

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December 4, 2017 – For the second year in a row, the Canadian Partnership for International Justice is represented at the 16th Assembly of States Parties (ASP) to the International Criminal Court (ICC) by a delegation of practitioners, academics and students from various NGOs and academic institutions presented below.

Their attendance to the event of the year on international justice hosted by the UN on 4 to 14 December 2017 will allow them to contribute towards enhancing criminal remedies for victims of international crimes and finding solutions to outstanding issues that hamper the project envisioned in the Rome Statute.

This event is also an amazing opportunity for the Canadian Partnership to train a cohort of students who are educated, engaged and networked in international and transnational law. Through blogging and live twitting, our delegates will train and educate diverse Canadian audiences about the challenges, pitfalls and potential of the system of international justice, and about the priorities to improve the system. Thanks to their experience and knowledge, the delegations will contribute to enhancing Canada’s role as a global leader in the fight against impunity.

Follow the Partnership’s Twitter account and watch for our delegates’ posts on our partners’ platforms (IntLawGrrls, Quid Justitiae, Justice in Conflict, Blogue d’Avocats sans frontières Canada, PKI Global Justice Journal) to learn more about this year’s specific issues and to get news and updates.

Who is attending the ASP this year?


–       Fannie Lafontaine

–       Valerie Oosterveld

–       Darryl Robinson

–       Mark Kersten

–       Érick Sullivan


–       Amanda Ghahremani

–       Philippe Tremblay

–       Fergus Watt


Jenny Poon

Jenny Poon is a third-year Ph.D. candidate at the Faculty of Law of the University of Western Ontario. Her research examines the norm of non-refoulement in international and European law and will involve a comparative analysis of the norm in United Kingdom and Germany.

Leah Gardner

Leah Gardner earned a law degree in both Common Law and Civil Law from McGill University in 2016. As part of her studies, she also completed the Intensive Semester in Aboriginal Lands, Resources and Governments at Osgoode Hall Law School. Before studying law, she worked as the Public Education Coordinator at a social justice non-profit in Montreal. At the Canadian Centre for International Justice, she led programs on topics like the Canadian extractive industry, international trade, and economic, social and cultural rights. As a human rights accompanier in Colombia, Leah worked with communities impacted by transnational mining. She later returned to Colombia, and also Panama, to complete two legal internships focused on mining law and corporate accountability. She currently sits on the board of the Justice and Corporate Accountability Project (JCAP) legal clinic. Leah holds a B.A. in International Development Studies from McGill University, and has experience working in both immigration and indigenous law in Canada.

Sophie Gagné

Having graduated in 2016 from an Integrated Bachelor in Public Affairs and International Relations (hon.) at Université Laval, Sophie is currently an L.L.M. and L.L.B. candidate, at Université Laval. Her L.L.M. research project, which she is completing under the supervision of Prof. Fannie Lafontaine and Julia Grignon, is about qualification of the end of armed conflicts by international criminal judges. She is part of the Canada Research Chair on International Criminal Justice and Human Rights, as well as of the Interdisciplinary Centre on Africa and Middle East. Since 2015, she has been working closely with the Clinique de droit international pénal et humanitaire, as well as with the Canadian Partnership for International Justice since its creation in 2016.


Geneviève Geneau

Geneviève Geneau is currently a Ph.D. student at Ottawa University under the supervision of Professor Muriel Paradelle. Her research focuses on criminalization in international criminal law of sexual violence committed against women in the framework of genocide. She is a research assistant at Université Laval’s Chaire de recherche en droit sur la diversité et la sécurité alimentaires and is a lecturer at Ottawa University.





Silviana Iulia Cocan

Silviana Cocan is a Ph.D student in international law at Laval University under joint supervision at Bordeaux University, in France. She is currently writing a thesis on the dialogue between jurisdictions and quasi-jurisdictions protecting human rights. More specifically, she is studying judicial dialogue in direct relation with the prohibition of torture and other cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment and punishment. Her research fields are public international law, human rights law, international humanitarian law and international criminal law. Silviana is also participating as a student at Université Laval’s International Criminal and Humanitarian Law Clinic.

Catherine Savard

Catherine Savard is currently completing her bachelor in Law at Université Laval. She is also the assistant coordinator for the Canadian Partnership for International Justice. During her degree, she completed a year of schooling at Åbo Akademi University’s Institute for Human Rights, in Finland. Back at Université Laval, she involved in the International Criminal and Humanitarian Law Clinic and realized research mandates, including for the Special Tribunal for Lebanon.

Nicole Tuczynski

Nicole Tuczynski is a current LL.M (Common Law) student at the University of Ottawa. She also enjoys working in the field of politics on Parliament Hill for a M.P, a position that she has held for the past two years. Her research interests and passion revolve around both International Criminal Law and Canadian Health Law and Policy. Her specific research focus is currently on the International Criminal Court and one of the specific aims of the institution – that being an end to impunity for perpetrators who have committed genocide, war crimes and crimes against humanity. Nicole holds a M.A. in Political Science, with a Collaboration in Transitional Justice and Post-Conflict Reconstruction, and a B.A. Honours Specialization Degree in Political Science, both from Western University. Her previous Master’s Major Research Paper also focused on international justice by way of studying the International Criminal Tribunal for the Former Yugoslavia and assessing its mandate.

Annika Weikinnis

Annika Weikinnis is currently enrolled in the Graduate Studies in Law program at the University of Ottawa and conducts research in the field of international criminal law, in particular the involvement of transnational corporations in international crimes. She holds a Master’s degree in Politics and International Relations from the University of Aberdeen and a Master’s degree in Law and Politics of International Security from the Vrije Universiteit Amsterdam. Attending the ASP16 is an invaluable experience for her, academically and professionally, and she hopes to gain further insights in the organisation, processes and issues concerning the ICC.

Isabelle Jacovella Rémillard

Isabelle oversees the Community Engagement with International Justice project at the Canadian Centre for International Justice (CCIJ), a project which uses multimedia to highlight CCIJ’s clients’ various access to justice efforts. She is also responsible for coordinating CCIJ’s digital outreach and organising legal education workshops with affected communities. She earned her Bachelor’s degree in Conflict Studies and Human Rights at the University of Ottawa and her double degree in civil law and common law at McGill University. She also holds a professional certificate in Disaster and Humanitarian Response from the McGill Humanitarian Studies Initiative. Isabelle’s research interests include issues of sexual violence in times of war, and the scope of protection of child soldiers under IHL.

Maxime Mariage

Maxime is currently completing a specialized post-graduate diploma at Université Laval and earned a master in international relations and international journalism. He studied in Beijing and interned in international organizations, notably at the Global Centre for the Responsibility to Protect and at Crisis Action in New York. He also worked for Le Soleil newspaper in Dakar, Senegal. He is specializing in international law and cultural rights and possesses a huge experience in legal translation.