Milestone Transition: LRWC appoints Catherine Morris as Executive Director

Milestone transition: Lawyers’ Rights Watch Canada

LRWC appoints Catherine Morris as Executive Director

Gail Davidson

Lawyers’ Rights Watch Canada’s (LRWC) founding Executive Director Gail Davidson is taking a 3-month sabbatical before moving to a new role as Research Director of LRWC after twenty years leading a committee of lawyer volunteers whose vision is “promoting human rights by protecting those who defend them.” Catherine Morris, an international human rights researcher, educator and advocate since 2004, has been appointed Executive Director effective 1 June 2020.

Catherine Morris

According to Catherine Morris, “Gail Davidson is one of Canada’s foremost human rights advocates, and under her leadership, LRWC has become internationally recognized and respected for analysis and advocacy of international human rights law. LRWC’s volunteers will continue to build on the solid foundation Ms. Davidson has constructed during the past twenty years.”

Ms. Davidson founded LRWC in 2000 to promote knowledge and implementation of international human rights law around the world, believing that lawyers “who practice law in safe environments such as Canada owe a duty to those who risk not only their freedom but also their lives in order to protect their clients’ rights.” LRWC is now one of Canada’s leading international human rights organizations and holds special consultative status with the United Nations (UN) Economic and Social Council (ECOSOC).

Under Gail Davidson’s direction, LRWC volunteers have advocated for lawyers and human rights defenders at risk in countries around the world. Her leadership has also resulted in LRWC’s publication of several guidebooks on topics relevant to defenders around the world, including the right to legal aid, the right to presumption of innocence and pre-trial release, and the right to dissent. In May 2020, LRWC published a guide to international law rights of human rights defenders entitled Attacking Defenders: The Criminalization of Human Rights Advocacy researched and written by LRWC member Lois Leslie with a forward by Michel Forst, UN Special Rapporteur on Human Rights Defenders from June 2014 to April 2020. Gail Davidson has herself authored, co-authored or edited hundreds of communications about international human rights and humanitarian law including amicus briefs to international, regional and domestic tribunals and reports to United Nations (UN) bodies. Among Ms. Davidson’s awards is the Courage in Law Award from the University of British Columbia Indigenous Law Students’ Association in 2013.

As a long-term volunteer with LRWC, Catherine Morris has authored or co-authored numerous LRWC statements and reports. She has served for several years as LRWC’s Main Representative at the UN Human Rights Council in Geneva.

Ms. Morris has been involved in research, education or advocacy on five continents including countries in Asia, South and Central America, Europe, and Africa. She has taught graduate level courses in international human rights, negotiation and conflict studies at universities in Canada, Thailand, and Austria. Her publications and papers include works on human rights, dispute resolution, reconciliation, and peacebuilding in Cambodia. She is an Adjunct Professor in the Faculty of Law at the University of Victoria (UVic), an Associate of UVic’s Centre for Asia-Pacific Initiatives, and a former Executive Director of the UVic Institute for Dispute Resolution. She is the founding director of Peacemakers Trust, a Canadian charity for research and education on conflict transformation and peacebuilding. She is a practicing member of the Law Society of British Columbia and the Canadian Bar Association.


Further information:

Catherine Morris
Executive Director
Lawyers’ Rights Watch Canada