Liberal MP and McGill Law Professor Irwin Cotler has been awarded the prestigious Pursuit of Justice Award from the American Association of Jewish Lawyers and Jurists in a ceremony at Cardozo Law School on January 27th.
Previous recipients include U.S. Supreme Court Justices Ruth Bader Ginsburg and Stephen Breyer, former Israeli Supreme Court Justice Aharon Barak, and Judith Kaye, former Chief Judge of the New York Court of Appeals. Cotler is the first Canadian to receive this award.
In presenting the award, Harvard Law Professor Alan Dershowitz revealed that he had nominated Irwin Cotler for the Nobel Peace Prize saying, “I know of no other human rights advocate in the world who is so committed to the pursuit of justice for all, without regard to race or religion, national or ethnic origin, gender or sexual orientation.” He added that, “I trust that the Nobel Peace Prize panel will recognize the unprecedented achievements of this unsung hero for human rights.”
In his response, Cotler paid tribute to his late parents who he said “taught him that the pursuit of justice is equal to all the other commandments combined … and that it must guide individuals and states in all that we do.” Cotler went on to say that he regarded the award as “recognition of the cases and causes in which I have been engaged for some 40 years – the struggle for Soviet Jewry; the struggle against Apartheid; the struggle against racism and anti-Semitism; the struggle for a just peace in the Middle East – of Israel not just as a Jewish cause, but as a just cause; and more recently Darfur and the combating of Ahmadinejad’s Iran.”