At the Crossroads: A Crucial Discourse on Human Rights and International Justice

English and French closed-captions are available

International justice is at a critical juncture. There is a poignant need today for dialogue that transcends time and speaks to the universality of human rights. The Wallenberg Centre, in collaboration with the University of Ottawa presented the 2023 Elie Wiesel Distinguished Lectureship in Human Rights with Mr. Karim Khan, Chief Prosecutor of the International Criminal Court, as guest lecturer. Mr. Khan’s insights shed light on the challenges our world faces and the urgency for action against ongoing atrocities and human rights violations.

Mr. Khan brings a wealth of unique experience and expertise, as well as a profound sensibility shaped by his engagement with the struggle for human rights on the front lines. In his thought-provoking speech, Mr. Khan emphasizes a credibility gap affecting international institutions while highlighting their role in preventing global conflagrations. Despite success in preventing large-scale wars, the gap between international law and the lived experiences of survivors poses a significant challenge. Mr Khan stresses the importance of viewing the law as a shared responsibility, urging citizens worldwide to embrace justice as an innate quality transcending religions, cultures, and races. He advocates humility in engagement, acknowledging the imperfections of all nations. International laws, such as the Rome Statute and Geneva Conventions, are universal, belonging to all nations, religions, and races.

Mr. Khan calls for a new approach that goes beyond black letter law, creating a common ground based on basic principles to unite people of diverse backgrounds. His overarching goal is to foster partnerships, leverage technology for data sharing, and collaborate with civil society, states, and universities to promote justice and reduce impunity on a global scale. Mr. Khan rejects despair, advocating for more justice, and emphasizing the dynamic approach required for building a just world. This speech, presented in Ottawa before a sold-out audience, marked a crucial moment for reflection, education, and a renewed commitment to the principles that define our shared humanity.

Watch the conference in full

Subtitles are available in English and French.

About the Elie Wiesel Distinguished Lectureship in Human Rights

This lecture series, named in memory of the indomitable Nobel Peace Laureate and Holocaust survivor Professor Elie Wiesel, serves as a solemn tribute to his enduring legacy and the profound messages he imparted through the lens of his harrowing experiences. Elie Wiesel not only bore witness to the unfathomable horrors of the Holocaust but also emphasized the universal lessons embedded within that dark chapter of history. His message, encapsulated in the imperative of remembrance, the danger of silence in the face of evil, and the perils of indifference and inaction in the presence of mass atrocities, resonates today with an undiminished relevance. The Elie Wiesel Lectureship serves as a beacon, guiding us through the shadows of our shared history, reminding us that the past is not a distant echo but a living force that shapes our present and molds our future.

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