Panel III:  International Law

Irish Center for Human Rights, National University of Ireland, Galway

William A. Schabas is director of the Irish Centre for Human Rights at the National University of Ireland, Galway, where he also holds the chair in human rights law.  He holds B.A. and M.A. degrees from the University of Toronto and LL.B., LL.M. and LL.D. degrees from the University of Montreal, as well as honorary doctorates from Dalhousie University and Case Western Reserve University.  

Dr. Schabas is the author of 21 books dealing in whole or in part with international human rights law, including Introduction to the International Criminal Court (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2007, 3rd ed.), Genocide in International Law (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2nd ed., 2009), The Abolition of the Death Penalty in International Law (Cambridge, Cambridge University Press, 2003, 3rd ed.), International Human Rights and Canadian Law (Toronto, Carswell, 2007, 3rd ed.), The Death Penalty as Cruel Treatment and Torture (Boston, Northeastern University Press, 1996) and Précis du droit international des droits de la personne (Montréal, Éditions Yvon Blais, 1997).  He received the Certificate of Merit of the American Society of International Law at its 2007 Annual Meeting for his book The UN International Criminal Tribunals: Former Yugoslavia, Rwanda and Sierra Leone (Cambridge, Cambridge University Press, 2006).  He has also published more than 250 articles in academic journals, principally in the field of international human rights law and international criminal law.  His writings have been translated into several languages, including Russian, German, Spanish, Portuguese, Chinese, Japanese, Arabic, Persian, Turkish, Nepali and Albanian.  Professor Schabas is editor-in-chief of Criminal Law Forum, the quarterly journal of the International Society for the Reform of Criminal Law.

Dr. Schabas has often been invited to participate in international human rights missions on behalf of non-governmental organizations such as Amnesty International (International Secretariat), the International Federation of Human Rights, and the International Centre for Human Rights and Democratic Development to Rwanda, Burundi, South Africa, Kenya, Uganda, Sudan, Cambodia and Guyana.  He was a delegate of the International Centre for Criminal Law Reform and Criminal Justice Policy to the United Nations Diplomatic Conference of Plenipotentiaries on the Establishment of an International Criminal Court, Rome, June 15-July 17, 1998.  He is a member of the board of several international human rights organizations and institutions, including the International Institute for Criminal Investigation, of which he is chair, and the International Institute for Human Rights (Strasbourg). In 2006, he was appointed by the Secretary-General of the United Nations as a member of the five-person board of the United Nations Voluntary Fund for Technical Assistance in the Field of Human Rights.

From 1991 to 2000, William Schabas was professor of human rights law and criminal law at the Département des sciences juridiques of the Université du Québec à Montréal, a Department he chaired from 1994-1998; he now holds the honorary position of professeur associé at that institution.  He is also an honorary professor at the Law Institute of the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences, Beijing.  He has taught as a visiting or adjunct professor at McGill University, Université de Montréal, Université de Montpellier, Université de Paris X-Nanterre, Université de Paris XI, Université de Paris II Pantheon-Assas, Dalhousie University, Université de Genève and National University of Rwanda, and he has lectured at the International Institute for Human Rights (Strasbourg), the Canadian Foreign Service Institute, the United Nations Institute for Training and Research and the Pearson Peacekeeping Centre.  He was a member of the Quebec Human Rights Tribunal from 1996 to 2000, and a member of the Quebec Bar from 1985 to 2005.  Dr. Schabas was a senior fellow at the United States Institute of Peace in Washington during the academic year 1998-99.  In 1998, he was awarded the Bora Laskin Research Fellowship in Human Rights by the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council of Canada.

In May 2002, the President of Sierra Leone appointed Dr. Schabas to the country’s Truth and Reconciliation Commission, upon the recommendation of Mary Robinson, the United Nations High Commission for Human Rights. In 2006, the Secretary-General of the United Nations appointed him a member of the Board of Trustees of the United Nations Voluntary Fund for Technical Assistance in the Field of Human Rights.

Dr. Schabas was named an Officer of the Order of Canada in 2006. He was elected a member of the Royal Irish Academy in 2007.