A call to action for our times, Payam Akhavan's 2017 CBC Massey Lectures, In Search of a Better World: A Human Rights Odyssey, is a powerful survey of some of the major human rights struggles of our times — and what we can do about it.
Renowned UN prosecutor and human rights scholar Payam Akhavan has encountered the grim realities of contemporary genocide throughout his life and career. Deceptive utopias, political cynicism, and public apathy, he says, 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 the Islamic State.
But he also reflects on the inspiring resilience of the human spirit, and the reality that we need each other, to set us free from ideology and go about building that better world.
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.
In Search of a Better World: A Human Rights Odyssey is published by House of Anansi Press.
The 2017 CBC Massey Lectures will be broadcast on IDEAS November 6 - 10.
- November 6: Lecture 1 - The Knowledge of Suffering (recorded in Whitehorse)
- November 7: Lecture 2 - In Pursuit of Global Justice (recorded in Vancouver)
- November 8: Lecture 3 - The Will to Intervene (recorded in Montreal)
- November 9: Lecture 4 - The Oneness of Humankind (recorded in St. John's)
- November 10: Lecture 5 - The Spirit of Human Rights (recorded in Toronto)
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.
He served as Chair of the Global Conference on Prevention of Genocide, and he's a Founder of the Iran Human Rights Documentation Centre. 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.
The CBC Massey Lectures is a partnership between CBC, House of Anansi Press and Massey College in the University of Toronto. Named in honour of Vincent Massey, former governor general of Canada, since their creation in 1961 by the CBC, the Massey Lectures have established their place as a Canadian institution and become an annual highlight of our cultural life. The lectures provide a forum on radio where contemporary Canadian thinkers can explore crucial issues of our time. Former lecturers include Martin Luther King Jr., Margaret Atwood and Stephen Lewis.