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Remembering one Raoul Wallenberg

by Milos Kovacevic October 28, 2014
Remembering one Raoul Wallenberg

Project aims to teach humanity rather than passivity in the face of atrocity

Concordia will co-host a special panel discussion on Wednesday, Oct. 29 in memory of a Swedish diplomat whose intercession, at personal risk, saved tens of thousands of Hungarian Jews from Nazi extermination. His willingness to remain in danger for the sake of others ultimately led to his disappearance after arrest by Soviet authorities sure of his complicity as a spy. For this he was eventually made Canada’s first honorary citizen in 1985.

The Montreal Institute for Genocide and Human Rights Studies (MIGS) is organizing the event.

“I was impressed by MIGS’ hands-on approach consisting of advocacy, organizing conferences, and professional training,” said Daniel Haboucha, a research associate for the organization who has been involved with the initiative for quite some time. With a background on international humanitarian and human rights law, he was interested in using Wallenberg as a tool for public awareness in the light of genocide prevention.

“I was very enthusiastic about the opportunity to work on the Raoul Wallenberg project and contribute to public education and awareness around this important historical figure, making his legacy relevant to a contemporary audience,” he said, adding the project was started by former MIGS intern Isadora Hellegren through the Swedish Institute, the organization highlighting Swedish contributions abroad.

Haboucha calls MIGS a ‘hub for policy discussion about mass atrocity prevention’ and an emergent type of law, called the Responsibility to Protect, which twins the concepts of state sovereignty with the responsibility of protection against atrocities.

“Being based at Concordia’s History Department and operating out of Concordia for the past 28 years, we naturally appreciate the university’s support for our work, which comes across in a variety of ways, from assisting with space and publicity to providing logistical and administrative support,” wrote Haboucha by email.

In its nearly three decades of existence, MIGS has grown into a regular partner with the United Nations, save when it works independently, in monitoring conflict zones around the world, particularly in monitoring domestic media in at-risk countries as an early warning bell against atrocities, serious human rights abuses, and genocide.

“With the number of living Holocaust survivors rapidly diminishing, it is important to keep alive the memory of what they experienced—both as a cautionary tale for humanity and, in the case of Raoul Wallenberg, an inspiring one as well—for future generations,” continued Haboucha.

The Raoul Wallenberg Legacy of Leadership Project will be held on Wednesday, Oct. 29, from 6:30 to 8:30 p.m. It will be held at Centre Mont-Royal,2200 Rue Mansfield, Montréal. In attendance will be Sweden’s ambassador to Canada, Per Sjögren, Cameron Hudson, Director of The Center for the Prevention of Genocide at the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum, Irwin Cotler, Canadian Member of Parliament for Mont Royal, and Adama Dieng, UN Secretary-General’s Special Adviser on the Prevention of Genocide.

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