Payam Akhavan is a Professor of International Law at McGill University, a Member of the International Court of Arbitration, and a former UN prosecutor at The Hague. He has served with the UN in conflict zones around the world and as legal counsel in landmark cases before the International Court of Justice, the International Criminal Court, the European Court of Human Rights, and the Supreme Courts of Canada and the United States. The 2017 CBC Massey Lecturer, Akhavan was born in Tehran, Iran, and migrated to Canada with his family as a child.
In Search of a Better World
Renowned United Nations prosecutor and human rights scholar, Akhavan has encountered the grim realities of contemporary genocide throughout his life and career. He argues that deceptive utopias, political cynicism and public apathy have given rise to major human rights abuses from the religious persecution of Iranian Bahá’í’s that shaped his personal life, to the horrors of ethnic cleansing in Yugoslavia, to the genocide in Rwanda to the rise of contemporary phenomena such as the Islamic State. But he also reflects on the inspiring resilience of the human spirit and the reality of our inextricable interdependence to liberate us, whether from hateful ideologies that deny the humanity of others or an empty consumerist culture that worships greed and self-indulgence. A timely work of memoir, history, and a call to action, In Search of a Better World is a powerful and essential work on the major human rights struggles of our times.