Atlantic Human Rights Centre Hosts Briefing with Petitioner in Guatemalan Human Rights Case before the Inter-American Court of Human Rights

On May 31, the Atlantic Human Rights Centre, in collaboration with STU Human Rights alumna Laura Robinson, organized a private briefing with Wendy Mendez, a petitioner in the Gudiel Alvarez vs. Guatemala, also known as the Military Diary Case, as part of the 2022 Maritimes-Guatemala Breaking the Silence Network Spring Speaking Tour.

From right to left:

Steve Drost, Class of 88, President CUPE New Brunswick
Emilia Gutierrez, Class of 2021, Education Officer, New Brunswick Human Rights Commission
Professor Karen Robert, STU History Department
Paulo Estrada, founder of Verdad y Justicia en Guatemala, co-plaintiff in Gudiel Alvarez et al. v Guatemala
Ashley Thornton, Class of 2022, Human Rights Minor
Wendy Mendez, founder of HIJOS Guatemala, co-plaintiff in Gudiel Alvarez et al. v Guatemala
Kassandra Trainor, Class of 2022, Human Rights Major
Dr Shannonbrooke Murphy, Acting Director, Atlantic Human Rights Centre

Canadian Journal of Human Rights celebrates publication of 10th anniversary edition

The only Canadian peer-reviewed academic journal dealing exclusively with human rights research is still staying true to its original mandate 10 years later. Founded in 2012 by Faculty of Law professor, Dr. Donn Short, the Canadian Journal of Human Rights: An Interdisciplinary Journal of Law and Policy remains a publication of the Law Faculty Council at the University of Manitoba. Each year, about 20 law students cut their teeth on academic research working for the CJHR as Assistant Editors, Editors, and as Senior Editor, all under the guidance of Dr. Short who remains Editor-in-Chief.

Produced with funding from the Legal Research Institute, the Law Foundation of Manitoba, and with assistance provided by Carmen Roberge, Faculty of Education and Professional Studies, Université de Saint-Boniface, the CJHR is an internationally recognized journal that attracts scholarship from respected human rights scholars around the world. Publications have included immigration and refugee law, freedom of expression, equality, sexuality and gender rights, international law, criminal law and numerous other issues related to domestic and international human rights.

In the 10th Anniversary edition’s forward, Dr. Richard Jochelson, Dean of the Faculty of Law, recognizes the CJHR’s singularity and the critical role it plays in fostering the exploration of human rights issues, especially with so much more work to be done. “Disability injustice maintains, as Canada continues to lag even the United States in legislative responses to inaccessibility,” he writes. “Members of the LGBTQ2S*+ communities continue to be othered and excluded from institutions and opportunities across the globe. Hate crimes and anti-Semitic speech appear to be on the rise over the last several years in Canada and globally. Trumpism, the rise of strong men and movements to the fascistic right have increased around the world.”

“It has never been more important to explore these vital issues, and this journal continues to be an international thought leading vehicle in the complicating of human rights discussions.” – Dr. Richard Jochelson, Dean of Law, Forward, (2021) 10:1 Can J Hum Rts 

“The CJHR is one of the few groups in the law school who do what we do twelve months during the year,” said Dr. Short. “There is no season to what we do – it’s an ongoing cycle. We work through the entire school year and we don’t stop during the summer. As those cycles have turned, ten times now, I have been cognizant of two overriding principles or goals that define our mission of public education. First, our task is to contribute to the growing awareness of human rights, generally, and, second, our charge to present scholarship that results in the actual respecting of human rights.”

Senior Editor Jack Powles graduates from the Juris Doctor program this spring after having been involved with the CJHR in multiple capacities since the end of his first year of law school. He describes his time spent with the journal as one of the highlights of his law school experience. “It offers a unique experience during law school in being a part of an ongoing project throughout the entire academic year,” he said. “Each volume of the journal is a culmination of the work other student editors have done in preceding years, and it is both a rewarding and memorable experience to have each year culminate in publishing a volume of the CJHR with that year’s editorial team. I know the CJHR will continue to be a success for all of those involved, and pass all my thanks to Editor-in-Chief Dr. Donn Short for this invaluable mentorship throughout these past 2 years.”

Editor Rhiannon Swan finishes her second year of law this spring and has learned much from her experience working on the journal. “I have really enjoyed being able to work with peers who share an interest in the promotion and discussion of human rights,” she said. “The CJHR has allowed me insight into topics that I might not have otherwise considered, and more importantly how the law might be used to protect the rights of vulnerable communities. I think this is something that is very important for professionals in the legal field to remember.”

Articles contained in the 10th Anniversary edition include “The Final Refugee Paradigm: A Historical Warning” by J. Mauricio Gaona, “Managing Campus Expression and Equality Rights: Contemporary Considerations for Canadian Universities” by Arig al Shaibah and Sophie Poinar, and “Towards Developing a Non-ableist and Non-cisnormative Taxonomy of Bodily Integrity Identity and Expression in Canadian Human Rights Law” by Daniel W. Dylan.

The full volume is available for download on the CJHR website, along with past volumes.

St. Thomas University to Confer Honorary Degrees on Dr. Mary McCarthy-Brandt and Maggie Paul at Spring Convocation

St. Thomas University will be recognizing writer and educator Dr. Mary McCarthy-Brandt and Passamaquoddy elder and song carrier Maggie Paul with honorary degrees at Spring Convocation on Tuesday, May 17.

“Each of these remarkable individuals has used her voice to celebrate and preserve their respective histories and culture and bring attention to pressing current day social issues,” said Dawn Russell, St. Thomas University President and Vice-Chancellor. “We will be honoured to highlight their accomplishments at Spring Convocation as our class of 2022 graduates.”

Dr. Mary McCarthy-Brandt is a Fredericton-based writer, educator, and historian dedicated to preserving the histories of Black New Brunswickers. Over the past decade, she has emerged as a prominent public commentator and has promoted greater awareness of the historical and current contributions of Black New Brunswickers. A PhD graduate of the University of Toronto’s Ontario Institute for Studies in Education, her scholarly research focused on segregated and forgotten graveyards in New Brunswick. In 2015, McCarthy-Brandt won a human rights case against Shoppers Drug Mart for an incident of racial profiling. Her writing was featured in the collection Black Writers Matter, an anthology of African-Canadian writing on contemporary issues. She was also featured in Chatelaine Magazine as one of “33 Black Canadians Making Change Now” for her work identifying systemic and anti-black racism.

Maggie Paul is a Passamaquoddy elder, teacher, and song carrier who has lived most of her adult life on the St. Mary’s First Nation. She is known for her beautiful singing voice, her work preserving traditional songs, and using music to inspire and guide Indigenous youth. For more than 40 years, she has been preserving and resurrecting Passamaquoddy and Wolastoqey songs that were once banned by the Government of Canada. As Paul once said, “When you bring the songs back, you’re going to bring the dances back. You’re going to bring the people back. You’re going to bring everything back.” She has dedicated her life to unearthing and reviving these forgotten melodies to bring them back to her community so that it can feel whole again.


CBC Coverage of 2022 Dr. Abdul Q. Lodhi Memorial Lecture in Human Rights

To access the article, please click here.

Commentary on Ukraine invasion by Atlantic Human Rights Centre Fellow Alex Neve

To access the article, please click here.

Statement of the Canadian Association of Human Rights Institutes* on the Russian Aggression against Ukraine

We are appalled by the unashamed violations of the foundational principles of the United Nations Charter and of basic tenets of international law by President Vladimir Putin and the Russian Federation.

In total contempt for the principles of non-use of force to settle disputes and of respect for the sovereignty and territorial integrity of another State, Russia has breached cardinal rules of the UN Charter-based system in a naked act of aggression. As an individual, Mr Putin’s decision to wage aggressive war incurs criminal responsibility.

Subsequent acts of use of force against civilian targets, including civilian residences and non-military targets, constitutes breaches of International Humanitarian Law and are war crimes.

As a guarantor of the post Second World War rules-based international order, Russia was conferred a privileged position as a permanent member of the UN Security Council with a veto in trust of UN Member States and the international community. This veto is to be used for the purpose of contributing to and upholding peace and security and the related purposes and principles of the United Nations including social and economic development and respect for human rights. Willful acts of aggression coupled with abusive use of the veto manifestly repudiate that trust. As such, Russia no longer merits and cannot reasonable hold this privileged position in the UN system.

We thus call upon UN Member States, subsequent to UN Security Resolution 2623 of 27 February 2022, to unite for peace and vote on 2 March 2022, in the present Emergency Special Session of the General Assembly, to disregard Russsia’s illegitimate diplomatic positions, including its veto, and, instead, to support Ukraine in defense of its sovereignty, territorial integrity, and the protection and well-being of all persons within Ukraine.

We call upon the UN General Assembly to remove Russia from its membership of the UN Human Rights Council.

We call upon the Organisation for Security and Cooperation in Europe to disregard Russia in any decision of consensus using the rule of consensus minus one “in cases of clear, gross, and uncorrected violations of relevant OSCE commitments.”

We commend the Committee of Ministers of the Council of Europe for invoking Article 8 of its Statute and suspending Russia for its gross violations of the stipulated aims of the Council and we call upon the Committee of Ministers to consider expelling Russia as the evolving situation may warrant.

We call upon Canada to stand with Ukraine and for the Government of Canada to extend every facility and means of support to the Government and people of Ukraine in its defense of their inherent individual and collective rights to self-determination and all other human rights.

We comment Ukraine for its persistence in calling by all means for a peaceful resolution of the situation notwithstanding extreme threats and, now. attacks against it.

We commit to honest and unreserved testament to the violations we are not witnessing and to support for the full restoration of the independence and development of Ukraine and of the Ukrainian people under the rule of law, according to the genuine will of the people, and will full respect for human rights.

*Members of CAHRI supporting this statement:

Atlantic Human Rights Centre, St. Thomas University
Professor Nandini Ramanujam, Centre for Human Rights and Legal Pluralism, McGill University
Centre for Human Rights Research, University of Manitoba
Human Rights Research and Education Centre, University of Ottawa
Interdisciplinary Research Laboratory on the Rights of the Child, University of Ottawa
International Justice & Human Rights Clinic, University of British Columbia
Landon Pearson Centre for the Study of Childhood and Children’s Rights, Carleton University
Montreal Institute for Genocide and Human Rights Studies, Concordia University
Nathanson Centre on Transnational Human Rights, Crime and Security, York University
The University of Winnipeg Global College, University of Winnipeg

Canada Research Chair in Indigenous Law to Deliver Lodhi Lecture

The Atlantic Human Rights Centre Annual Dr. Abdul Q. Lodhi Memorial Lecture in Human Rights will be given by Dr. John Borrows, Canada Research Chair in Indigenous Law. The lecture entitled “The Resurgence of Indigenous Law in Canada” is his reflection on the 40th Anniversary of the Canadian Constitution and Charter of Rights and Freedoms. Dr. Borrows says, “Indigenous peoples use law to regulate their affairs and resolve their disputes. Indigenous law functions through standards, principles, criteria, measures, guideposts, tradition, precedent, and processes to provide intellectual and cultural resources for making decisions. Indigenous law is growing in force and importance and this talk will discuss how and why this is occurring. In the process, legislatures, courts, corporations, law schools and other institutions in Canada are increasingly having to grapple with Indigenous law and Canadian law related to Indigenous peoples’. This talk will discuss how Indigenous peoples law is an increasingly active force across the land.”

John Borrows is Professor of Law at the University of Victoria Faculty of Law. He is the author of books including Recovering Canada: The Resurgence of Indigenous Law (Donald Smiley Award Best Book in Canadian Political Science, 2002), Canada’s Indigenous Constitution (Canadian Law and Society Best Book Award 2011), Drawing Out Law: A Spirit’s Guide (2010), Freedom and Indigenous Constitutionalism (Donald Smiley Award Best Book in Canadian Political Science, 2016), The Right Relationship (with Michael Coyle, ed.), Resurgence and Reconciliation (with Michael Asch, Jim Tully, eds.), and Law’s Indigenous Ethics (2020 Best Subsequent Book Award from Native American and Indigenous Studies Association, 2020 W. Wes Pue Best Book Award from the Canadian Law and Society Association).

He is the 2017 Killam Prize Winner in Social Sciences and the 2019 Molson Prize Winner from the Canada Council for the Arts, the 2020 Governor General’s Innovation Award Winner, and the 2021 Canadian Bar Association President’s Award Winner. He was appointed as an Officer of the Order of Canada in 2020. He is also a member of the Chippewa of the Nawash First Nation in Ontario.

The lecture will take place online on Thursday, March 3rd, at 7:00 p.m. AST.
To register for this event, please click here.

Atlantic Human Rights Centre Fellow Alex Neve leads national research project “Federalism and International Human Rights Law”

The AHRC is acting as a partner in the local component of a national research project entitled “Federalism and International Human Rights Law”, under the leadership of New Brunswick-born AHRC Fellow, Alex Neve, former Secretary General of Amnesty International Canada, and now Adjunct Professor of International Human Rights Law with the Faculties of Law at the Universities of Ottawa and Dalhousie. The ultimate purpose of the project is to advance a proposal for a strengthened approach among federal, provincial and territorial governments to the implementation of Canada’s International human rights obligations.

About the idea behind it, Alex says: “Canada is seen and sees itself as a country with a strong commitment to human rights, globally and at home. There has, however, been remarkably little consideration of whether we measure up to that reputation and aspiration where it matters most, ensuring that international human rights are consistently and effectively upheld across the country… Given the country’s constitutional division of powers, depending on the subject matter the authority to address specific human rights concerns in Canada may be divided between or shared by federal, provincial and territorial governments. Federalism therefore requires innovation in ensuring that human rights are meaningfully and consistently respected across the country.”

He continues: “No federal, provincial or territorial government has an expressly empowered Minister of Human Rights. Instead, responsibility for upholding human rights is dispersed across government. While all Ministers should of course take human rights seriously, this lack of explicit human rights leadership poses a challenge to clarity and accountability…What is needed is an approach that brings federal, provincial and territorial governments together in a manner that delivers effective, coordinated, consistent, transparent and accountable international human rights implementation in this country. The responsibility to comply with international human rights does not attach singularly to any one government in Canada. The obligations attach to the country as a whole. Governments, working together, must live up to that responsibility.”

Alex is now supervising student research teams from coast to coast, who will examine the outcomes of United Nations-level human rights reviews of Canada to identify locally relevant issues and recommendations. They will also examine what mechanisms are in place at provincial/territorial level to act on those recommendations and generally ensure compliance. This will be done through desk research on provincial government and UN documents, interviews with government officials, lawyers and civil society and Indigenous groups, Freedom of Information Requests, and review of media reports and other sources. Ultimately each team will prepare a written report of their findings which will be compiled with the others from across the country.

The AHRC component of this project involves a St Thomas University human rights student research intern team: Brianna Bourgeois and Elisha Gunaratnam who will study New Brunswick, and Paytra Waibel and Graci Young who will study PEI. All the other student research intern teams on this project covering the other jurisdictions are from (12) law schools across the country, including Dalhousie, U of T and Osgoode, Queens University, University of Manitoba, and UBC, among others.

2022 Human Rights and Media Lecture Series

The Atlantic Human Rights Centre, St. Thomas University’s Department of Human Rights, St.Thomas University’s Journalism and Communications Department, NB Media Co-op and RAVEN have partnered to invite the public to the Human Rights & the Media Lecture Series. Participants will hear from scholars of the media and law, media makers and grassroots activists on how our media landscape is changing and what they are doing to make it a more safe, just, and equal space.

For more information and to register, please click here.

Nora Loreto on Spin Doctors and COVID-19
To watch the recorded lecture, please click here.

Elizabeth Dubois on Political Bots
To watch the recorded lecture, please click here.

Erin Steuter on Fake News
To watch the recorded lecture, please click here.

Aditya Rao on Hate Speech
February 10, 2022, at 5:30 p.m. via Zoom.

Hilary Young on Non-Consensual Disclosure of Intimate Images
To watch the recorded lecture, please click here.

Laura O’Brien on Peaceful Assembly
February 22, 2022, at 5:30 p.m. via Zoom.

Fenwick McKelvey on Artificial Intelligence
To watch the recorded lecture, please click here.

Siti Maimunah on Climate Change and the Global South
March 31, 2022, at 5:30 p.m. via Zoom.

Kaitlyn Layden on Advancing the Rights of People with Disabilities
April 12, 2022, at 5:30 p.m. via Zoom.

Recipients of the 2021 UCCHRE Human Rights in Higher Education Awards Announced

“The University and College Consortium for Human Rights Education (UCCHRE) announced today the winners of its first Human Rights in Higher Education Award, which recognizes an individual, organization, initiative, or publication for its outstanding contribution to human rights education. The recipients for 2021 are two distinguished journals in the field: the Human Rights Education Review and the International Journal of Human Rights EducationAs editors-in-chief, Audrey Osler, Professor of Education at University College of South-Eastern Norway, and Monisha Bajaj, Professor of International and Multicultural Education at the University of San Francisco, will accept the award on behalf of their respective publications. The 2021 Human Rights in Higher Education Awards will be presented as part of the Human Rights Day Celebration of Human Rights Educators USA: Thursday, December 10th at 3:30 EST. Please join us!

The first international award in human rights education, the Human Rights in Higher Education Award, promotes work that embodies human rights principles and practices in teaching, learning, research, policies, and practices. The University and College Consortium for Human Rights Education works to further human rights learning, research, policy, and practices within and across university and college communities through collaboration.

Founded within a year of each other (2018 and 2017 respectively), the Human Rights Education Review and the International Journal of Human Rights Education mark the coming of age of human rights education as a scholarly field. Each provides an international forum for the exchange of research and experiences as well as a space for scholars, young and old, to reach the growing global audience for human rights education in both academia and the world of human rights activism.

In their content and the diversity of their contributors, both journals reflect the international nature of human rights education. Both offer peer-reviewed articles and reviews of the highest quality; both are open source and accessible to individuals outside the academy; both reflect the broad range of applications encompassed by human rights education, including formal, popular, and values education; and HRE in post-colonial, post-conflict, minority, and oppressed communities globally.”


Atlantic Human Rights Centre Endorses the Inter-American Principles on Academic Freedom and University Autonomy

The Atlantic Human Rights Centre has endorsed the Inter-American Principles on Academic Freedom and University Autonomy, as proposed by the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights, the Special Rapporteur for Freedom of Expression, and the Special Rapporteur for Economic, Social, Cultural and Environmental Rights.

According to the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights, “The objective of the Inter-American Principles is to provide a tool that integrates the standards developed by the Inter-American concerning Academic Freedom and University Autonomy. At the same time, this instrument seeks to serve as a frame of reference for OAS States Parties to take into consideration to ensure that their academic freedom laws, policies, and practices are in compliance with Inter-American human rights norms and standards.”

To learn more about the proposed Principles, please click here.

Testimonio and Storytelling: Canadian extractivism in territories affected by genocide

The Atlantic Human Rights Centre co-sponsors the online event “Testimonio and Storytelling: Canadian extractivism in territories affected by genocide” which will take place on Monday, November 8th at 7:00 p.m. ADT via Zoom.

The event will focus on the recent publications of “Canadian mining in the aftermath of genocides in Guatemala” and “Wolastoqiyik and Mi’kmaq Grandmothers-Land/Water Defenders Sharing and Learning Circle: Generating Knowledge for action.” During the event, attendees will “learn more about struggles for self-determination after genocide, how Canadian colonialism continues through mining in Guatemala and how grassroots Indigenous organizers from Wabanaki territories are organizing to stop extractivism.”

Confirmed participants include:

  • Ansieto Lopez: Maya Mam community organizer from San Miguel Ixtahuacan, Guatemala who was part of a group that petitioned the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights to stop operations at the Marlin Mine and urged Canadian churches and pension holders to divest Goldcorp
  • Isabel Solis: Maya K’iche lawyer and human rights defender, survivor of genocide who has accompanied mining struggles throughout Guatemala.
  • Sherry Pictou: Mi’kmaw academic and organizer from L’sɨtkuk, author of, “Wolastoqiyik and Mi’kmaq Grandmothers-Land/Water Defenders Sharing and Learning Circle: Generating Knowledge
  • Catherin Nolin: Assistant Professor of Geography at the University of Northern British Columbia, Editor of “Testimonio”

Award winning journalist Joan Baxter will moderate the event alongside Testimonio Contributor Jackie McVicar.

To register for the event, please click here.

To learn more about the book “Testimonio: Canadian Mining in the Aftermath of Genocides in Guatemala,” please click here.

UN Special Rapporteur Delivers Vigod Lecture

In the week following the momentous endorsement of the human right to a healthy environment by the United Nations Human Rights Council in Geneva, the annual Dr. Bernie Vigod Memorial Lecture in Human Rights was given by Dr. David R. Boyd, UN Special Rapporteur on human rights and the environment on Thursday, October 14th at 7:00 p.m. AST via Zoom.

The lecture discussed how global recognition of the human right to a healthy and sustainable environment could be a catalyst for the rapid, systemic, and transformative changes to all aspects of society that scientists are calling for.

Dr. Boyd is Associate Professor of Law, Policy, and Sustainability at the University of British Columbia. He served as the executive director of Ecojustice, argued cases at the Supreme Court of Canada, and worked as a special advisor on sustainability for Canadian Prime Minister Paul Marin. He had advised many governments on environmental, constitutional, and human rights policy and co-chaired Vancouver’s effort to become the world’s greenest city by 2020.

He is also the author of ten books and over 100 reports and articles on environmental law and policy, human rights, and constitutional law. His books include The Rights of Nature (EWC Press, 2017), The Optimistic Environmentalist (EWC Press, 2015), and The Environmental Right Revolution (UBC Press, 2012).

Dr. Boyd says “all human rights ultimately depend on a healthy planet, which is needed for the air we breathe, the water we drink and the food we eat. The right to a healthy environment points humanity towards a just, healthy and sustainable future on Earth, in harmony with the rest of nature.”

Watch the lecture HERE.

STU Moot Court Program: New Focus on Canadian and International Law

The Moot Court Team at STU is undergoing some exciting changes for this upcoming season.

As of 2021-2022, STU Moot will now focus primarily on competing against law schools at international competitions. The team will build on its success winning the Nelson Mandela World Human Rights Moot in Geneva (2017) and finishing fifth at the Manfred Lachs Space Moot in D.C. (2020). Now, STU is adding the International Criminal Court Moot that takes place at The Hague, the Nuremberg Moot that takes place in Germany, the Price Media Law Moot in London, and the Stetson Environmental Law Moot in Tampa.

STU Moot Court Coach Professor Amanda DiPaolo said “we are very excited to give more STUdents a chance to compete against law students. STU will still compete against Canadian undergraduate students with a focus on Canadian law for the Osgoode Cup and the McGill invitational.”

Last season, Alaina Mejia and Matt Oram capped off a storied three-year moot partnership with a second-place finish at the Osgood Cup. It was STU’s second consecutive year placing second after wining our first trip to the national undergraduate Canadian moot championship in 2019. STU Moot also wrapped up its final American undergraduate moot court competition season with multiple speaker awards, a second-place finish at the Fitchburg regional, two written brief awards, and three bids to the national championship.

Congratulations STU Mooters!

If you are interested in joining the STU Moot Court Program, please contact Dr. Amanda DiPaolo at


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