MIGS' Year in Review
Dear friends and partners,
Thank you for your interest in the work of the Montreal Institute for Genocide and Human Rights Studies (MIGS) at Concordia University. As an ideas and leadership incubator, throughout 2016 we continued our work in promoting human rights, preventing mass atrocity crimes and countering violent extremism.
Below you will find some of the highlights of our work over the past twelve months.
MIGS hosted New York Times’ journalist and Pulitzer Prize winning author C.J. Chivers. He discussed his experiences in conflict zones and addressed questions on Syria, Libya, and Ukraine.
MIGS participated in the Global Action Against Mass Atrocity Crimes conference in the Philippines, which brought together state leaders and NGOs to engage in atrocity prevention.
MIGS welcomed ten young scholars from the Jeanne Sauvé Foundation to talk about the Institute’s work. The team spoke about the crisis in Syria, refugees and ISIS’ use of social media for propaganda and recruitment. MIGS will work closely with the Jeanne Sauvé Foundation in 2017.
MIGS added its voice to the global advocacy campaign “World Leaders in London Must Deliver Transformational New Deal for Syrian Refugees and Host Countries”.
MIGS’ participated in the 47th United Nations Issues Conference, sponsored by the Stanley Foundation in New York. The conference theme was “Developing a Global Mechanism for Atrocity Forecasting and Prevention”.
MIGS hosted a meeting with the Canadian Minister of Veterans Affairs, the Honourable Kent Hehr, veterans and members of the Concordia University Veterans Association, Concordia University’s President Alan Shepard, Representatives of the RCMP Veterans Association, former members of the Canadian Armed Forces, and Concordia guests.
MIGS, together with the Canadian All-Parliamentary Group for the Prevention of Genocide and other Crimes Against Humanity, held a special session at the Canadian Parliament about the newly created network for Global Action against Mass Atrocities Crimes alongside the Swiss Ambassador to Canada, Dr. Beat Nobs, and the Philippine’s Deputy Ambassador to Canada Petronila P. Garcia.
MIGS participated the Second Global Forum Against the Crime of Genocide in Yerevan, Armenia.
MIGS co-organized and participated in Montreal’s second annual March for Humanity and the Prevention of Genocide alongside the Alliance for Genocide Awareness and Remembrance and the City of Montreal. The March, which raises awareness mass atrocity prevention, attracted nearly 2,000 participants. Notable speakers included Christine St. Pierre, Minister of International Relations and La Francophonie, and the Honourable Mélanie Joly, Minister for Canadian Heritage.
MIGS, the All-Party Parliamentary Group for the Prevention of Genocide and Other Crimes against Humanity and the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum co-organized a special event at the Canadian Parliament highlighting the plight of Syrian civilians. MIGS and the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum also held a press conference with Romeo Dallaire to highlight atrocities currently being committed in Syria. Video coverage of Dallaire’s statement was provided by the Toronto Star.
MIGS held its annual Professional Training Program on the Prevention of Mass Atrocity Crimes in Montreal, Canada, which brought together more than 40 mid- to senior-level professionals interested in human rights, conflict, peace and the prevention and interdiction of mass atrocity crimes.
MIGS participated in the 4th Global Diplomacy Lab in Berlin, Germany. The lab’s theme, “Do the Ends Justify the Means? The Significance of International Law and Moral Standards in Diplomacy,” covered important topics such as the responsibility to protect and mass atrocity prevention.
MIGS was once again the institutional partner of the Deutsche Welle Global Media Forum in Bonn, Germany. MIGS and Concordia University staff spoke on a panel titled “The digital security-rights nexus - The delicate balance between privacy and human security.” An audio recording of the session is available on Soundcloud.
MIGS and 43 NGOs signed a letter to the US Congress urging congressional action on atrocities prevention following President Obama’s March 18, 2016 issue of Executive Order 13729, “A Comprehensive Approach to Atrocity Prevention and Response.” MIGS also signed a joint international NGO statement titled, “Air drops call is welcome, sieges must end now,” calling on Russia and the United States to ensure the best conditions possible for air drops in Syria.
MIGS’ participated in the Aspen Security Forum on counter-terrorism.
MIGS’ non-resident fellow Michael Petrou took part in a six-day tour for international journalists organized by the US mission to NATO Public Affairs and NATO Public Diplomacy Division. The participants visited NATO Headquarters in Brussels, Belgium, and the King Abdullah Special Operations Training Center (KASOTC) in Amman, Jordan.
MIGS, supported by the Global Diplomacy Lab, participated in the BLED Strategic Forum in Slovenia on pressing political, security and development challenges in the region and globally.
MIGS hosted a conference titled "Assaulting Cultural Heritage: ISIS's Fight to Destroy Diversity in Iraq and Syria", which focused on the threat to cultural pluralism posed by violent extremist movements such as ISIS and Al-Qaeda. Ambassador Robert Fowler gave the keynote address “Sleeping with Al-Qaeda “.
MIGS co-signed a letter with 46 NGOs to U.S. President Obama in advance of the Refugee Summit asking him to widen the agenda to include the main drivers of global displacement and violent conflict. MIGS also co-signed a joint NGO letter on the cessation of hostilities in Syria with among others CARE Canada, Oxfam and Worldvision.
MIGS launched Countering the Trajectories (CONTRA), a new student-led project that was developed as part of the Peer to Peer: Challenging Extremism initiative sponsored by the U.S Department of State, Facebook, and EdVenture Partners. CONTRA focuses on combating the root causes of violent extremism and radicalization through education, focusing on prevention, critical thinking skills and media literacy.
MIGS attended UNESCO-Quebec’s Conference "Internet and the radicalization of youth: Preventing, Acting and Living together" and led a workshop titled "Quel package digital et utilisable dans les écoles créer afin de contrer les fausses-idées sur l'islam ?" MIGS’ Distinguished Senior Fellow Roméo Dallaire also participated in the conference.
Kyle Matthews was appointed Executive Director of MIGS.
MIGS, alongside the Faculty or Arts and Sciences and the Department of Political Science of Concordia University, hosted a series of round table workshops and a public event titled “Global Diplomacy in the Digital Age: Decoding how Technology is Transforming International Relations”. An overview of the public event can be viewed on Breakfast Television.
MIGS was the institutional partner and co-organizer of the 5th Global Diplomacy Lab (DGL), an initiative held for the first time outside of Europe. In cooperation with the German Foreign Office, the BMW Foundation, the Mercator Foundation and the Robert Bosch Stiftung, MIGS and the Montreal Institute of International Studies Université du Québec à Montréal (UQAM) brought together an international group of young professionals to Montreal, holding discussions and workshops on the subject of "Balancing Power through Information Technology".
MIGS held the first Global Forum on Countering Violent Extremism at Concordia University with the support of the U.S. Consulate of Montreal. The forum, which brought together 40 professionals keen to improve their knowledge of violent extremism, is set to become an annual initiative.
With the support of the U.S. Consulate of Montreal, MIGS also hosted the first meeting of The North American Working Group to Counter Violent Extremism Online welcoming 25 American and Canadian experts to Concordia University to develop strategies to fight online hate.
MIGS, in partnership with the British Consulate-General and Global Affairs Canada, welcomed the Nobel Peace Prize Nominated The White Helmets (Officially called The Syrian Civil Defense) to Montreal, and hosted a panel discussion with the directors of the NGO as well as a special screening of the group’s Netflix documentary.
MIGS welcomed Ivan Šimonović, the new UN Secretary General’s Special Advisor on the Responsibility to Protect to discuss the Institute’s work.
Along 222 civil society organizations, MIGS co-signed a letter of appeal titled “Uniting for Peace in Syria: Global Civil Society Appeal to UN Member States”. The letter calls on UN member states to request an Emergency Special Session of the UN General Assembly to demand an end to all unlawful attacks in Aleppo and elsewhere in Syria, and immediate and unhindered humanitarian access so that life-saving aid can reach all those in need.
MIGS, Kyle Matthews and Michael Petrou are featured on OpenCanada’s annual Canadian foreign policy Twitterati. The list highlights more than 100 Canadian influencers on Twitter who make “valuable additions to foreign policy conversations” in Canada and abroad.
As 2016 comes to a close, we want to thank you for your continued support of MIGS’ work. We look forward to working with you in 2017 and hope to count on your continued support in the years ahead. MIGS has set itself an ambitious agenda to grow and expand as Canada’s leading human rights institute.
On behalf of the staff of MIGS, we wish you happy holidays.
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