In Search of A Better World
Written by Payam Akhavan
A work of memoir, history, and a call to action, In Search of a Better World, the 2017 CBC Massey Lecture, is a powerful and essential work on the major human rights struggles of our times.
In February of 2017, Amnesty International released their Annual Report for 2016 to 2017, concluding that the “us versus them” rhetoric increasingly employed by politicians is endangering human rights the world over. Renowned UN prosecutor and human rights scholar Payam 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’ís that shaped his personal life, to the horrors of ethnic cleansing in Yugoslavia, the genocide in Rwanda, and 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, essential, and passionate work of memoir and history, In Search of a Better World is a tour de force by an internationally renowned human rights lawyer.
Payam Akhavan is a Professor of International Law at McGill University in Montreal, Canada, 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, including Bosnia, Cambodia, Guatemala, Rwanda, and Timor Leste, and as legal counsel in landmark cases before the International Court of Justice, the International Criminal Court, the European Court of Human Rights, the Supreme Courts of Canada and the United States. His prior academic appointments were at Oxford University, University of Paris, the European University Institute, University of Toronto, and Yale Law School. He earned his Doctor of the Science of Jurisprudence at Harvard Law School, and his widely cited academic publications include Reducing Genocide to Law from Cambridge University Press. He served as Chair of the Global Conference on Prevention of Genocide, is a Founder of the Iran Human Rights Documentation Centre, and his groundbreaking human rights work has been featured on BBC World’s Hardtalk, CBC Ideas, Maclean’s magazine, Brazil’s TV Globo, and the New York Times. In 2005, he was selected by the World Economic Forum as a Young Global Leader. Payam Akhavan was born in Tehran, Iran, and migrated to Canada with his family in his childhood.