EDI Accreditation - Law Society of Ontario

This program contains 1 hour of EDI Professionalism Content.
Is International Law Related to Indigenous Peoples Fit for Purpose?

Substantive Hours

Only Professionalism Hours must be accredited by the Law Society. Lawyers and paralegals must determine for themselves whether an activity is an eligible educational activity for CPD and qualifies for Substantive Hours. For more information about Substantive Hours, please see CPD Requirement.


Kick Off Webinar – 12:30-13:30 (ET)

Armed Conflict, Crisis and COVID-19: What Can International Law Do?


The virtual panel will unpack issues that have arisen in the humanitarian sector due to the intersection of national responses to COVID-19 and the application of international law, and international humanitarian law in particular. The panel will highlight the crucial importance of upholding international legal norms during overlapping crises. Speakers will share their experiences of tackling concurrent legal frameworks, simultaneous crises and adapting humanitarian work to more extraordinary circumstances.


Other topics covered by the panel will include:


  • How COVID-19 has exacerbated existing humanitarian crises and how the lack of effective protections for vulnerable people in situations of armed conflicts has exposed them to the worst effects of the pandemic;

  • Rules of international humanitarian law that impact the provision of healthcare, education and other essential services;

  • The interplay between emergency measures and provision of humanitarian assistance; and

  • Reflections on the international legal framework and what is working, what isn’t and ways forward.



Catherine Gribbin,  Canadian Red Cross


Nicole Hogg, ICRC

Vanessa Murphy, ICRC

Dr. Ayham Alomari, Canadian Red Cross


Thursday, October 1st

Kick Off Webinar

12:30 - 13:30 ET

Armed Conflict, Crisis and COVID-19: What Can International Law Do?

Thursday, October 15


12:30 - 13:30 ET

Is the Phoenix Still Rising in 2020? International Human Rights Law and Corporate Accountability in Canada

Thursday, October 29

Virtual Conference - Day 1

13:00 - 18:00 ET

• Welcome and Opening Remarks

• Keynote Speech: Dr. Gillian Triggs

• Simultaneous Sessions

NEW:  Virtual Reception with a recognition of the 2020 Public Sector Award Winner Colleen Swords followed by small networking groups.

Friday, October 30

Virtual Conference - Day 2

10:00 - 15:00 ET

• Simultaneous Sessions

• Closing Keynote: Prof. Irene Watson and Dr. Sharon Venne

• Annual General Meeting

• Career Panel

Thursday, November 12


12:30 - 13:30 ET

US Elections and International Law

Thursday, November 26


12:30 - 13:30 ET

Climate Change


Webinar – 12:30-13:30 (ET)

Is the Phoenix Still Rising in 2020? International Human Rights Law and Corporate Accountability in Canada


This bilingual panel will interrogate whether 2020 is seeing an upturn in Canada’s commitment to its international obligations concerning human rights in business, in light of the recent Supreme Court of Canada judgment in Araya v. Nevsun.


In February 2020, the Supreme Court of Canada ruled in favour of Eritrean plaintiffs who alleged they were subjected to forced labour at a gold mine owned by a Canadian company in Eritrea. The Court ruled for the first time that a Canadian corporation may be held legally responsible for violations of international law that protect human rights. This is the latest in a recent series of rulings allowing claims to proceed in Canadian courts against Canadian mining companies for complicity in human rights abuses abroad.


The ruling was predicated on two distinct and important questions of customary international law, and their treatment in Canada. First, whether the act of state doctrine forms part of Canadian common law. Second, whether customary international law prohibitions against forced labour, slavery, and crimes against humanity can ground a claim for damages under Canadian law.


The panelists will analyze the Supreme Court’s decision and discuss the current and potential role of international law as a tool for holding Canadian companies accountable for their conduct and operations abroad.



Amanda Ghahremani

Simone de Beauvoir Institute; Canadian Partnership for International Justice



Penelope Simons, University of Ottawa Faculty of Law

Joe Fiorante, Camp Fiorante Matthews Mogerman

Matt Eisenbrandt, Camp Fiorante Matthews Mogerman 

François Larocque, University of Ottawa Faculty of Law




Webinar – 12:30-13:30 (ET)

US Elections and International Law



José E. Alvarez, Herbert and Rose Rubin Professor of International Law, New York University Law School


Pierre-Olivier Savoie, Savoie Laporte

Participants are invited to join colleagues for an informal discussion following the webinar.


Webinar – 12:30-13:30 (ET)

Climate Change

Small island states made early pleas for the unavoidable negative impacts of climate change that cannot be prevented or adapted to – now collectively known as “loss and damage” - to be part of international climate negotiations back in the 1992 Rio Summit. Almost three decades later, loss and damage has gained recognition as the third pillar of international climate law and policy, after mitigation and adaptation. Yet turning the concept of loss and damage into concrete international legal mechanisms to address the needs of highly vulnerable developing countries bearing the brunt of the burdens and costs associated with extreme weather events or rising seas has proved challenging.   


With loss and damage continuing to increase due to inadequate climate mitigation, legal systems will be increasingly challenged to deal with it fairly and effectively. This webinar will discuss the current state of loss and damage under international climate law. Panelists will a) reflect on the prospects and limitations of the two main frameworks to address loss and damage under the UNFCCC process - the Paris Agreement and the Warsaw International Mechanism for Loss and Damage; b) discuss promising avenues for appropriate remedies for loss and damage outside the UN climate regime.  


Meinhard Doelle, Dalhousie University Schulich School of Law 


Dr. Sara L Seck, Dalhousie University Schulich School of Law 

Linda Siegele, Environmental Lawyer

Dr. Patricia G. Ferreira, University of Windsor Faculty of Law


Virtual Conference – Day 1

13:00 - 18:00 (ET)


13:00- 13:05 (ET) – Welcome and Opening Remarks
13:05- 14:00 (ET) – Keynote Speech
70th Anniversary of the Refugee Convention: Asylum and COVID-19
Dr. Gillian Triggs

Assistant High Commissioner for Protection at the Office of the UN High Commission for Refugees


Céline Lévesque, President, CCIL, University of Ottawa Faculty of Law

14:30-15:30 (ET) – Choice of two Sessions


Session 1

Pandemics and International Law: Response by International Organizations

(Presented in French)


This panel hosted by the Société québécoise de droit international (SQDI) will focus on the response international organizations are able to provide in a widespread pandemic. Are these organizations well equipped to coordinate the action of States facing such a situation? Are their rules lacking in this regard? What problems hinder their ability to react to a pandemic? We will examine the legal instruments and practices of three large sectoral international organizations, the World Trade Organization (WTO), the International Labour Organization (ILO) and the World Health Organization (WHO). Based on the experience gained by these organizations from the COVID-19 crisis in their respective spheres, the panel will discuss aspects relevant to both the law of international organizations and international law.



Charles-Emmanuel Côté, Université Laval, Faculty of Law



Gabrielle Marceau, WTO

Anne-Marie La Rosa, ILO

Geneviève DufourSherbrooke University, Faculty of Law (discussing the WHO) 

Session 2
Canada in the World: Extractivism, Settler Colonialism, Race and Ecological Footprints in International Law


This panel asks who decides the purposes of international law. Does international law aim to protect the environment, or does it aim to maximize the efficient exploitation of nature? Does international law aim to provide everyone an equal opportunity for development on their own terms, or does it facilitate elite enrichment in an increasingly economically unequal world? Does international law stand against colonialism, genocide, slavery, apartheid, and racism, or has it enabled these practices? If its stated aims are in contradiction with its operation in the world, how do we reconcile this paradox? Is the law unfit for purpose, or is it fulfilling its purposes all too well? Who decides and what are the consequences of how we answer this question?

This panel interrogates these matters in the Canadian context, examining Canada’s place in the world regarding extractive industries, settler colonialism, race, and ecological footprints in international law. The panel does so in two discussion rounds. First, the panelists examine the international frameworks pertaining to extractive industries, settler colonialism, race, and ecological footprints, and how Canada situates its place therein. Second, the panelists reflect on teaching international law in a manner that productively unsettles misleading preconceptions about international law and Canada’s place therein.

Sara Ghebremusse (Allard School of Law, University of British Columbia) considers the transnational and international frameworks that govern the operation of extractive industries and Canada’s important role in this sector. Can transnational and international law be taught in a manner that makes students self-aware of the way in which Canada, lawyers, and universities operate to systemically enable certain economic interests and silence others? Jeffery Hewitt (Osgoode Hall Law School, York University) asks whether the law of nations today recognizes the legal systems of Indigenous and Tribal nations as equal participants, and whether international law can be taught in a manner that undoes genocide rather than institutionalizing and normalizing it. Sujith Xavier (University of Windsor School of Law) questions whether liberal international law frameworks can combat racism in the contemporary world given that such frameworks also contribute to constructing race and racial hierarchy. He proposes breaking down violent structures through transforming our pedagogical practices. Usha Natarajan (Heyman Center, Columbia University) considers the implications of Canada’s ecological footprint for international laws on the environment, and the challenges of teaching environmental justice across the global south and north in a manner that navigates away from apathy and despair to empower actors productively.



Usha Natarajan, American University in Cairo



Sara Ghebremusse, University of British Columbia Faculty of Law

Jeffery Hewitt, Osgoode Hall Law School

Sujith Xavier, University of Windsor Faculty of Law

16:00-17:00 – Choice of two sessions
Session 1
Is International Law Related to Indigenous Peoples Fit for Purpose?


In 2007, the United Nations General Assembly (UNGA) voted in favour of the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples (UN Declaration). Four states voted against it: Canada, Australia, New Zealand and the United States (CANZUS states), but have since changed their positions and now express their support. However, expressing support is only the first step; now comes the critical phase of implementation.
This panel presents comparative approaches and Indigenous voices from CANZUS reflecting on domestic implementation of the UN Declaration. How is it possible to reconcile different legal orders: international law, domestic law, and Indigenous peoples’ own laws? Panelists consider how the legal traditions of Aboriginal peoples and Torres Strait Islanders, Pacific Islanders, Māori and Native Americans can be strengthened and revitalized through domestic implementation of the UN Declaration, and examine the particular challenges and opportunities that exist for implementing both the human rights and decolonization dimensions of the declaration within the CANZUS states.
The discussion highlights the collective efforts of Indigenous peoples from around the world, working sometimes with, but often facing stiff resistance from, national governments, to articulate the minimum requirements for their recognition and respect at home and in the global community.



Oonagh Fitzgerald, ILA, University of Ottawa


Brenda Gunn, University of Manitoba Faculty of Law

Fleur Te Aho, University of Auckland Faculty of Law

Kristen Carpenter, University of Colorado Law School

Patricia Adjei, Australia Council for the Arts

Session 2
International Dispute Resolution on Trial


For the past few decades, and with an increasing urgency over the past few years, there has been a growing disenchantment with international dispute resolution, both with respect to international investment law arbitration (known as ISDS) and before the World Trade Organization (WTO).

Each dispute resolution mechanism has been subject to fierce criticism of late. Opposition to ISDS has manifested in so-called new generation investment agreements, some of which provide for a radically different investor-state dispute mechanism or, like CUSMA, opt to limit access to ISDS or not to include it at all in relation to Canada. The United States’ dissatisfaction with the WTO’s trade dispute settlement mechanism has resulted in a paralysis of the WTO Appellate Body since late 2019.

Given these latest developments, the question then remains: are ISDS and the WTO dispute resolution bodies destined to fail?

This panel, structured in a classic debate format, aims to challenge our preconceived notions on international dispute resolution. Panelists will square off, each speaking in support of or against the proposition. Audience members are encouraged to decide prior to the debates whether they believe that these mechanisms are, indeed, destined to fail. Will our speakers succeed in changing your minds?


Alexa Biscaro, Norton Rose Fulbright LLP


Petros Mavroidis, Edwin B. Parker Professor of Foreign and Comparative Law, Columbia Law School 

Alison G. FitzGerald, Norton Rose Fulbright LLP

John Siwiec, Perley-Robertson, Hill & McDougall LLP

Krista Zeman, Trade Law Bureau, Global Affairs Canada (GAC)

Virtual Reception, 17:00 - 18:00 ET (NEW)

We will open with a recognition of the 2020 Public Sector Award Winner Colleen Swords, before breaking up into small group networking rooms.


We look forward to this opportunity to connect/reconnect with our international law colleagues!



Virtual Conference – Day 2

10:00 - 15:00 (ET)

10:00-11:00 (ET) – Choice of two Sessions


Session 1

COVID-19’s impact on the responsibility of States in light of their various commitments, especially in human rights matters 

(Presented in French)


Pierre-Olivier Savoie, Savoie Laporte



Anne-Thida Norodom, Université Paris-Descartes

Sébastien Touzé, Université Paris II Panthéon-Assas 

Sébastien Jodoin, McGill, University, Faculty of Law

Myrlande Pierre, Vice-president responsible for the Charter mandate, Commission québécoise des droits de la personne et des droits de la jeunesse 

Philippe-André Tessier, President, Commission québécoise des droits de la personne et des droits de la jeunesse 

Session 2
Trends in International Law in the COVID Era: A view from the Legal Affairs Bureau at Global Affairs Canada


This round-table discussion is moderated by Rebecca Netley, Director, United Nations, Human Rights and Economic Law Division at Global Affairs Canada. Each panelist will make a brief introduction of the responsibilities of their respective divisions. The moderator will then make remarks and pose questions to the panelists, raising some of the key files and issues currently addressed by GAC’s Legal Affairs Bureau – including in the context of the COVID pandemic. Questions will follow from attendants.



Rebecca Netley, Director, United Nations, Human Rights and Economic Law Division (JLH)



Louis-Martin Aumais, Director, Criminal, Security and Diplomatic Law Division (JLA)

Stephen Randall, Director, Treaty Law Division (JLI)

Alain Tellier, Director, Oceans and Environmental Law Division (JLO)


11:30-12:30 – Keynote Speakers
Going Forward in International Law and Indigenous Rights


In this conversation Prof. Irene Watson and Dr. Sharon Venne will consider and compare how far Canada and Australia have travelled post UNDRIP in the recognition of Indigenous Peoples.


Prof. Irene Watson

Professor Irene Watson belongs to the Tanganekald, Meintangk Bunganditj First Nations peoples of the Coorong and the South-east of South Australia and is the Pro Vice Chancellor: Aboriginal Leadership and Strategy, the David Unaipon Chair, and Professor of Law at the University of South Australia.

Dr. Sharon Venne

Dr. Sharon H. Venne (Notokwew Muskwa Manitokan) is a Cree woman and lawyer.


CCIL Annual General Meeting


Career Panel

Have you ever wondered what it would be like to work in the international legal field? Do you wonder what types of opportunities are out there for you and how you might pursue a career in this variable and exciting area of law? This panel has the answer to all of these questions and many more. Come hear from international law experts who have pursued a variety of career paths speak about their experiences.



Alan Cliff, Department of Justice (Canada)



Vivasvat (Viva) Dadwal, King & Spalding LLP

Stefan Kuuskne, Trade Law Bureau, Global Affairs Canada

Mark Searl, Human Rights Law Section, Department of Justice Canada

Param-Preet Singh, Human Rights Watch