A new Canadian legal training institute will bear the name of internationally acclaimed jurist Philippe Kirsch of Quebec. The announcement was made on January 24th by the Canadian Centre for International Justice (CCIJ), which helps survivors of torture and war crimes seek justice. “We are very pleased to be announcing that the Philippe Kirsch Institute will be launched within the year,” said Jayne Stoyles, Executive Director of CCIJ. “The Institute will offer high level Continuing Professional Development training to Canadian lawyers, legal academics and students.”

Philippe Kirsch is a Canadian lawyer who chaired the negotiations to establish the world’s first permanent International Criminal Court (ICC), which was inaugurated in The Hague in 2003 to try individuals for genocide, crimes against humanity and war crimes. He was elected as one of the first ICC judges, as well as the Court’s first president. Judge Kirsch is also a former Canadian Ambassador, and held other high-level posts within the Department of Foreign Affairs. He was appointed Queen’s Counsel in 1988 and made an Officer of the Order of Canada in 2009 for his significant contributions in the field of international criminal law.

The new Philippe Kirsch Institute will be what is called a social enterprise – a for-profit venture that seeks to further a social mission. Ms. Stoyles explained, “The intention is two-fold. The Institute will draw on an extensive network of judges, lawyers and academics to offer training in many areas of law that will help improve legal services in Canada, especially for vulnerable and under-served people. That is novel in itself, and in addition, 100% of the Institute’s profits will revert to CCIJ’s charitable work.”

“I am very honoured to be associated with this venture,” said Philippe Kirsch. “CCIJ has an important mandate to fulfill, serving some of the hundreds of thousands of survivors of atrocities currently in Canada, while contributing to the global effort to send a message to would-be torturers and war criminals that they will face justice. The business plan for the training institute has been very carefully prepared, and it is my strong expectation that the training will be highly sought after. This will provide a great service to the legal community in Canada, at the same time that it assists CCIJ in achieving its goals over the long term.”

Jonathan Wade, of The Collaborative for Innovative Social Enterprise Development (CISED) in Ottawa, has supported CCIJ throughout its exploration of potential models for a related business. He sees great potential in what the charity is doing. “CCIJ is an innovator,” Mr. Wade commented. “Their legal work can be complex and requires a long-term commitment. In an environment of reduced and impatient philanthropy, they are thinking about new ways to create sustainability, and in launching a training institute, have acted to make it possible using existing expertise and networks.”

Judge Kirsch will provide the inaugural training for the Institute, which is expected to launch in the second half of 2013.

The original press release can be found at: http://www.ccij.ca

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