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Prominent human rights lawyer to receive Law Society’s Human Rights Award

March 11, 2021

TORONTO, ON — Prominent human rights lawyer, outstanding academic and exceptional international legal advocate Payam Akhavan is the recipient of the Law Society of Ontario’s Human Rights Award. A virtual event will take place in June.

Established in 2013 and granted biennially, the Award recognizes outstanding contributions to the advancement of human rights and/or the promotion of the rule of law provincially, nationally, or internationally.

“This award is granted for devotion to the advancement of human rights and the rule of law over a long-term or for a single outstanding act of service,” said Law Society Treasurer Teresa Donnelly. “Professor Akhavan fits both criteria – many outstanding acts of service over decades of work. In his nomination materials he was described as: ‘A leading architect of the field of human rights and humanitarian justice. He leads by bridging the academic/practice divide.’ I am honoured to be able to grant him this award on behalf of the Law Society of Ontario.”

Professor Akhavan is a world-renowned international human rights lawyer and a Member of the Permanent Court of Arbitration at The Hague. He is a member of the Law Society of Ontario (2012) and the Bar of the State of New York.

He is recognized by his peers as an outstanding academic and exceptional advocate. Professor Akhavan currently serves as a Senior Fellow of Massey College and Distinguished Visitor at the University of Toronto Faculty of Law. He was previously a Law Professor at McGill University, with other appointments at prestigious institutions including Université de Paris X (Nanterre), Oxford University and Yale Law School. In 2017, he was selected to deliver the CBC Massey Lectures.

Professor Akhavan is also engaged in the practice of international law at the highest levels on behalf of victims of crimes against humanity. He served as a UN prosecutor and human rights officer in Bosnia-Herzegovina and Croatia during the Yugoslav war in the 1990s. He has also served as counsel in notable cases before the International Court of Justice, including the landmark 2019 Rohingya genocide case against Myanmar, as well as the International Criminal Court, the European Court of Human Rights and the Supreme Courts of Canada and the United States.  

The Law Society regulates lawyers and paralegals in Ontario in the public interest. The Law Society has a mandate to protect the public interest, to maintain and advance the cause of justice and the rule of law, to facilitate access to justice for the people of Ontario, and to act in a timely, open and efficient manner.


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