CBC Massey Lectures

Massey College, along with CBC and the House of Anansi Press, co-hosts the Massey Lectures, widely regarded as the most important public lectures in Canada. Established in 1961 by the CBC to honour the former Governor-General of Canada, the Right Honourable Vincent Massey, the College’s Founder and first Visitor, these annual lectures are given by a noted scholar or public figure. They are broadcast by the CBC from cities across Canada, and published at the same time by House of Anansi Press.

The 2017 CBC Massey Lectures are an essential analysis of the major human rights struggles of our times by internationally renowned human rights lawyer and former UN prosecutor Payam Akhavan.

A work of memoir, history, and a call to action, In Search of a Better World,the 2017 CBC Massey Lectures, are 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, and the Supreme Courts of Canada and the United States. Born in Tehran, Iran, Payam Akhavan migrated to Canada with his family in his childhood.

5 Cities Massey Lectures Tour

Lecture one: The Knowledge of Suffering –
September 13 Yukon Arts Centre, Whitehorse, YT

Lecture three: The Will to Intervene –
September 19 Centaur Theatre, Montreal, QC
Lecture five: The Spirit of Human Rights –
October 4 Koerner Hall Toronto, ON
Lecture two: The Pursuit of Global Justice –
September 15 York Theatre, Vancouver, BC
Lecture four: The Oneness of Humankind –
September 22 Cook Hall, Memorial University, St John’s, NL