The David Petrasek Legacy Fund

Artist’s rendering of south-east aerial view of University Square

Around the world David Petrasek’s many friends and colleagues mourn his passing on May 12, 2020. To honour his memory we have established the David Petrasek Legacy Fund. Your donation will ensure this initiative will carry his tremendous legacy forward, through a range of activities that focus on empowerment, education, building connections and encouraging debate to foster real change in the realms of human rights and conflict resolution.

David Petrasek believed passionately in a world of universal human rights protection. And towards that essential, fundamental vision and goal, he was deeply committed to creating innovative opportunities for learning, opening up space for thoughtful debate, building partnerships and connections, crafting concrete strategies and advancing practical solutions.

About the Legacy Fund

The David Petrasek Legacy Fund will include three components, an online forum in David’s name and memory, to be held in June 2020; the David Petrasek Human Rights Lecture Series; and the David Petrasek Human Rights Prize and Mentorship.

Human Rights in COVID Times: An Online Human Rights Forum to Honour David Petrasek

On June 24, 2020, an online forum, organized in David’s name and memory, explored the imperatives and opportunities for transformative changes to human rights that arise in the midst, and aftermath, of the COVID-19 pandemic. The forum honoured David’s many contributions to international human rights, justice, and peace, and launched the David Petrasek Legacy Fund. The event was collaboratively co-hosted by a range of organizations and institutions with which David had close affiliations or personal connections, including the University of Ottawa, Amnesty International, Open Global Rights, the Dialogue Advisory Group, the Centre for Global Pluralism, and the Centre for Humanitarian Dialogue.

The Petrasek Human Rights Lectures

A series of occasional lectures in David’s name will be held at the University of Ottawa over the course of 2020-2023. The lecture series will proceed from recognition that while universal human rights are the foundational vision for peace, security and a sustainable world, efforts to deliver that vision concretely and durably have too often been unrealistic and ineffective. The women and men who deliver the Petrasek Lectures will turn human rights upside down and inside out, question orthodoxies, encourage imaginative and innovative solutions, explore what stands in the way of realizing this universal vision, and challenge us all to transform and even revolutionize how we get there.

The David Petrasek Human Rights Prize and Mentorship

Most significantly and substantially, we will establish an annual David Petrasek Human Rights Prize and Mentorship, awarded to an undergraduate student between their second and third year of studies in the University of Ottawa’s Conflict and Human Rights Program who is both a thinker and a doer. The Prize would offer recognition and mentorship, both of which matter a great deal. Formal recognition of a student’s accomplishment and potential can be a door opener. But even more valuable: the advice and support of mentors can be invaluable.

The Prize recipient would have an academic mentor who is a professor at the University of Ottawa who embraces the spirit of the award, as well as a practitioner mentor who can help the student navigate the governmental, multilateral and/or non-governmental space and provide advice on advancing human rights in practice. Both would commit to advising the student at least for the remaining two years of their undergraduate studies.Among other things, mentors could use their knowledge and connections to help the recipient pursue internships and other concrete opportunities to help advance their career.

David Petrasek

About David Petrasek

Throughout his remarkable career – as an educator, lawyer, academic, activist, researcher and policy analyst – he worked for rights and justice at the frontlines of armed conflict, close to home, in the corridors of power, in classrooms and lecture halls around the world, and through his eloquent writing.

Over the course of an impressive career spanning four decades, based in Ottawa, Geneva and London, David Petrasek worked for Amnesty International, the Office of the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights, the Centre for Humanitarian Dialogue, the International Council for Human Rights Policy and Open Global Human Rights and was an instructor in the part-time LLM program at the University of Oxford. He had been an Associate Professor in the Graduate School of Public and International Affairs at the University of Ottawa since 2010.

Never chasing the spotlight, David inspired, encouraged and challenged thousands of students, civil society colleagues, and UN and government officials to question, reimagine and make change happen. The David Petrasek Human Rights Initiative aspires to carry that tremendous legacy forward, with a focus on empowerment, education, connections, debate and change.

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