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2006 Winner Errol Mendes

At the joint ICJ/Canadian Judges’ Forum meeting held on August 14 in St. John’s, ICJ Commissioner Hon. Ian Binnie presented the 2006 Tarnopolsky Award to Professor Errol Mendes.

Professor Mendes was the former Director of the Human Rights Research and Education Centre at the University of Ottawa, of which Walter Tarnopolsky was the founding Director. At the time of his award, Professor Mendes was Editor-in-Chief of the National Journal of Constitutional Law; and his work included a major study on legal mechanisms to combat racism for the federal Department of Justice, and, with Senator Gérald-A. Beaudoin, the third edition of the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms (1996). He is internationally recognized for his expertise in the areas of constitutional law, human rights and international business and trade law.

Professor Mendes has served as project leader for human rights, governance, and justice projects in China, Thailand, Indonesia, Brazil, El Salvador, Sri Lanka, and India.

In his Tarnopolsky Address, citing the disastrous 20th-century failures of many States to balance the claims of individual and collective rights, Professor Mendes spoke of the wisdom of using the Canadian model as a template for the protection of minority rights in multiethnic States worldwide: “The genius of the founding architects of Canadian nationhood was to entrench asymmetry up to the limits of the politically possible, but then to permit differences to flourish under other symmetrical provisions.”

You may read the full text of his address, entitled “The Canadian Constitution and Charter of Rights and Freedoms: a Ggobal template for minority rights?” by clicking pdfhere.

2005 Winner Marcia Kran

Click pdfhere to read the text of the address delivered by 2005 winner Marcia Kran, entitled, “ Human Rights and the United Nations: Taking Human Rights as Seriously as Security and Development”.

2004 Winner Hon. Rosalie Abella

Rosalie AbellaRosalie Abella and Lloyd Axworthy

Click pdfhere to read the 2002 Tarnopolsky address delivered by the Hon. Rosalie Abella, entitled “Justice and Rights: looking back to the future.”

2003 Winner Georgette Gagnon

Georgette Gagnon of Toronto was named the 2003 recipient of the Walter S. Tarnopolsky Human Rights Award. The award was presented at the annual meeting of ICJ Canada, held on Aug. 18, 2003 at the Canadian Legal Conference.

Professor Ed Ratushny, then-President of the Canadian Section of the International Commission of Jurists (ICJ) recognized Ms. Gagnon for being a distinguished defender of human rights who had demonstrated time and again her profound commitment to advancing human rights. He noted that her work was characterized by a rare combination of the highest professional standards and sensitivity for people in vulnerable situations.

Until June 25, 2003, Ms. Gagnon served as Director of Human Rights for the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE) Mission to Bosnia and Herzegovina, a post she held for two years. Ms. Gagnon and her staff of 150 worked tirelessly to address the situation of the nearly two million citizens of Bosnia and Herzegovina who were made refugees or internally displaced by the 1992-1995 war.

Under Ms. Gagnon’s leadership, the OSCE Mission has been credited with remarkable achievements in assisting citizens to repossess property they lost during the war, enabling thousands of refugees and displaced persons to return to their pre-war homes and communities. When she became director of human rights, only 30 per cent of property claims had been resolved. Ms. Gagnon and her team helped bring that ratio to 82 per cent by the end of May 2003.

Ms. Gagnon also contributed significantly to other important human-rights-related work in Bosnia and Herzegovina, including strengthening the rule of law, advancing the rights of the Roma minority and implementing measures to eliminate ethnic discrimination in employment, education and public services and to facilitate return throughout the region.

Since 1999, Ms. Gagnon had also been actively involved in human rights issues in Sudan. Her efforts focused on documenting the human rights impact of transnational business actors operating in war-torn countries and developing legislative mechanisms to hold such actors accountable for the human rights consequences of their activities in conflict zones, and on preventing slavery. She served on the Canadian Assessment Mission to Sudan (the “Harker Mission”) that investigated links between Canadian oil development and human rights violations in Sudan as well as slavery. In 2001, Ms. Gagnon led a mission to Sudan that investigated and reported on the human rights situation in the oil region for Canadian and British non-governmental organizations. In 2002, she served as the legal/technical advisor to an International Eminent Persons Group, mandated by the US Secretary of State, that investigated slavery, abduction and forced servitude in Sudan and recommended practical measures to stop those abuses.

Ms. Gagnon also served in key roles in projects to strengthen human rights and the rule of law in China, India and Rwanda and for the Canadian Human Rights Foundation. She was called to the Bar of Ontario in 1986 and received her LL.M with Distinction in International Human Rights Law from the University of Essex in Britain in 1998.

Please click pdfhere to read the remarks given by 2003 Tarnopolsky award winner Georgette Gagnon.

2002 Winner Sen. Gérald-A. Beaudoin, O.C., Q.C.

Senator Gerald A At the time of his award in 2002, Senator Gérald-A. Beaudoin was a former President of the Canadian Section of the ICJ, a longtime member of Council, and a regular participant on the Executive Committee.

The Award was presented to Senator Beaudoin by the Hon. Mr. Justice Ian Binnie of the Supreme Court of Canada, following the panel discussion that was a joint effort of ICJ Canada and the Canadian Judges’ Forum. The presentation of the award prompted a standing ovation by the audience.

Senator Beaudoin subsequently addressed the Annual Meeting, where he spoke feelingly of his close association with Walter Tarnopolsky, initially as teaching colleagues giving bilingual seminars together at the University of Ottawa Law School. When Walter Tarnopolsky was appointed founding Director of the Law School’s Human Rights Centre in 1981, Gérald Beaudoin served as Associate Director. Later, they co-edited the first edition of The Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms: A Commentary. Senator Beaudoin went on to consider the longstanding tradition of an independent Bar and Bench in Canadian history and the importance of the Charter to the lives of Canadians.

Click pdfhere to read the 2002 Tarnopolsky address delivered by Sen Beaudoin.

2010 Winner Jayne Stoyles

Jayne Stoyles

Jayne Stoyles, Executive Director of the Canadian Centre for International Justice and an Ashoka Canada Fellow, was named the 2010 recipient of the Walter S. Tarnopolsky Award for outstanding achievement in the field of human rights. The Award was presented by the Hon. Michèle Rivet.

Every third year, the Tarnopolsky Award is presented to someone in mid-career, and 2010 was such a year. Although called to the bar in 1997, Jayne’s experience is that of a seasoned human rights veteran. In his introduction of her at the Annual Meeting, Ron Atkey, the Chair of the 2010 Selection Committee, said that the decision had not been difficult: “There was one young candidate among this year’s nominees who clearly met all the selection criteria related to Walter Tarnopolsky. In the short thirteen years since she was called to the Bar of Ontario, Jayne Stoyles has already made a significant difference in the field of human rights - at home and abroad.”

Ms. Stoyles served as Program Director of the NGO Coalition for the International Criminal Court in New
York, an organization that was twice nominated for the Nobel Peace Prize during her tenure, was a Senior Advisor to the Institute for Global Policy in New York, and served as a founding member of the Conflict Prevention Working Group of the Canadian Peacebuilding Coordinating Committee. She has volunteered in Africa, Latin America, and northern Canada, and she has taught international law.

Ms. Stoyles accepted the Award on behalf of the people she works with every day, victims of human rights abuses, and donated the Award honorarium to the CCIJ.

Ms. Stoyles’ talk provided a history of the International Criminal Court and an overview of the ICC’s current investigations in the Sudan, the Democratic Republic of Congo, the Central African Republic, and Uganda. She then brought the discussion home to Canada, highlighting the presence of 2,000 alleged war criminals in the country, the lack of funds for the war crimes prosecution program, and the need to amend Canada’s state immunity law to allow victims of torture to bring civil lawsuits in Canadian courts. She ended her talk on a personal note: “It is a great honour to be involved in this work,” she said. “I just do what I love.”

In thanking her, ICJ President Paul Fraser said, “Jayne exemplifies all of the qualities that the Tarnopolsky
Award seeks to reward and celebrate. She brings extraordinary vision, energy, and leadership skills to the work of strengthening the protection of universal human rights by improving law, policies, and practices in Canada with respect to international justice.”