by Jacob Bilich
On October 19th, 2017 SFS hosted Payam Akhavan, a renowned human rights lawyer and associate professor at McGill University, for a talk about his new book In Search of a Better World: A Human Rights Odyssey. Akhavan reflected on many of his own experiences that led to his career in human rights and international law, and also discussed many current human rights issues with members of the audience. He criticized the reactions to many of the human rights abuses in recent history, and examined ways in which both governments and individual citizens can reframe their thinking and take more productive action when it comes to these issues.
The measure of success is what doesn’t happen in human rights. When something is on CNN news, it’s usually too late.
Anthony Clark Arend, Senior Associate Dean for Graduate and Faculty Affairs, moderated the audience discussion following Akhavan’s remarks. The audience conversation consisted mostly of questions about how international reactions to recent instances of human rights abuse could be improved, and also a discussion of the importance of human rights advocacy in the context of extremism. Despite Akhavan’s criticism of international responses, he remains optimistic for the future.
“Instead of debating or talking, let’s start doing.”