Payam Akhavan

Faculty of Law


Photo of Payam Akhavan

Day, Chancellor, Hall, Rm 614 [Map]
3644 Peel Street
Montreal, Quebec
H3A 1W9
514.398.8232 [Office]
514-398-8197 [Fax]




Professor Akhavan teaches and researches in the areas of public international law, international criminal law and transitional justice, with a particular interest in human rights and multiculturalism, war crimes prosecutions, UN reform and the prevention of genocide.

He was previously the Boulton Senior Fellow at McGill, Distinguished Visiting Professor at the University of Toronto Faculty of Law, and Visiting Lecturer and Senior Fellow at Yale Law School and the Yale University Centre for International and Area Studies. He has published extensively including “Beyond Impunity: Can International Criminal Justice Prevent Future Atrocities?” (2001) 95 American Journal of International Law 7 ( selected by the International Library of Law and Legal Theory as one of “the most significant published journal essays in contemporary legal studies.” He is also the author of the Report on the Work of the Office of the Special Advisor of the United Nations Secretary-General on the Prevention of Genocide (2005).

Professor Akhavan was the first Legal Advisor to the Prosecutor’s Office of the International Criminal Tribunals for Former Yugoslavia and Rwanda and played a key role in the development of its foundational jurisprudence. He also has considerable experience in post-conflict peace-building and international dispute settlement, having advised the UN on transitional justice, appearing as counsel before international courts and tribunals on behalf of sovereigns, and serving on the board of directors of human rights NGOs, including the Iran Human Rights Documentation Centre (, in New Haven, of which he is also the president and co-founder. His work has been featured in the New York Times and, in recognition of his contributions to promoting accountability for human rights violations, he was selected by the World Economic Forum as a Young Global Leader ( in 2005.

Article in New York Times:


S.J.D., Harvard University, 2001

LL.M., Harvard University, 1990

LL.B., Osgoode Hall Law School, 1989

Admitted to the New York State bar 2002


Associate Professor, Faculty of Law, McGill University, 2006-

Boulton Senior Fellow, Faculty of Law, McGill University, 2005-2006

Senior Fellow, Yale Law School and Yale University Genocide Studies Program, New Haven, 2003-2005

Senior Associate, Debevoise & Plimpton, New York, 2001-2003

Visiting Senior Lecturer & Senior Fellow, Leiden University, The Netherlands, 2000-2001

Legal Advisor, Office of the Prosecutor, International Criminal Tribunals for former Yugoslavia and Rwanda, The Hague, The Netherlands, 1994-2000

Human Rights Officer, United Nations Centre for Human Rights, Geneva & Zagreb/Sarajevo, 1993-1994

Research Associate, Danish Institute of Human Rights, Copenhagen, Denmark, 1991-1993

Research Associate, Norwegian Institute of Human Rights, Oslo, Norway, 1990-1991

Areas of Interest

International law, UN reform, comparative law, human rights, laws of war, law and society, transitional justice, prevention of genocide, Islam and the West, and international criminal law.