Visiting Lectureship in Human Rights

2019 - 2020:
Professor Adam Bodnar
Poland's Commissioner for Human Rights

Prof. Adam Bodnar at the Visiting Lectureship in Human Rights"The Fight for Rule of Law in Poland"

Between 2015 and 2020, Poland's ruling party, "Law and Justice," has undertaken a number of steps to dismantle the rule of law. As a result, Poland is sliding towards a system of illiberal democracy or a system of competitive authoritarianism. There is massive resistance against these changes by civil society, judicial associations, opposition political parties and international organizations. Poland has also become a laboratory for testing new procedures of the European Union concerning the rule of law observance. The question is whether defenders of the rule of law will prevail, and constitutional democracy will survive.


About Prof. Bodnar

Prof. Adam Bodnar was appointed the Commissioner for Human Rights of the Republic of Poland in 2015. A key function of this constitutional office is to ensure that public authorities secure and respect the human rights of all members of Polish society. He has been appointed by the Parliament as the Commissioner for Human Rights thanks to unprecedented support and a campaign by more than 60 Polish NGOs.

Prof. Bodnar is a defender of judicial independence, freedom of the media, and minority rights - all of which have been under threat in Poland. He is an advocate of democracy and the rule of law. He has been a leading voice in the protection of minority rights for migrants, women, ethnic and national minorities, persons with disabilities and sexual minorities.

Prof. Bodnar has been giving lectures in law at the University of Warsaw since 2006, the year he received his PhD in the field of constitutional law at the University. In 2018 he received his second scholar degree (habilitation). Prior to assuming his current role, Prof. Bodnar worked for the Helsinki Foundation of Human Rights between 2004 and 2015. In 2013-14 he was a member of the Board of Directors of the United Nations Voluntary Fund for Victims of Torture.

Prof. Bodnar and his Office received the 2018 Norwegian Rafto Prize for the defence of minority rights and judicial independence in Poland, and in 2019, the Rule of Law Award by the World Justice Project.

About the Lectureship

The University of Alberta Visiting Lectureship in Human Rights is envisioned as one of the preeminent annual events held at the University.

Individuals or organizations that have made an outstanding contribution in the field of human rights and human rights protection are invited to deliver a major public lecture in Edmonton. They also participate in other significant events at the University of Alberta, the City of Edmonton and the Province of Alberta during their visit.

The first Lectureship, held in the fall of 1998, coincided with the 50th anniversary of the proclamation of the United Nations Declaration of Human Rights.

The University of Alberta Visiting Lectureship in Human Rights aims to:

  • Offer the people of the Province of Alberta a significant and educational way of annually celebrating the commitments we undertook as signatories of the United Nations Declaration on Human Rights.
  • Support and nurture Albertans' continuing interest and illustrious involvement with human rights at home and abroad.
  • Demonstrate the University of Alberta's commitment to helping students and Albertans understand complex human rights issues. This is especially important as the University and its graduates pursue economic, social and political alliances with peoples around the world. In creating these linkages, it is important that we are aware of and sensitive to situations involving the exploitation of others.
  • Serve as an annual reminder to the people of Alberta of the need to protect human rights within our own province.
  • Continue the University of Alberta's tradition of providing a safe environment to discuss controversial and difficult subjects and by doing so, provide students, faculty and staff with the opportunity to learn, question and participate in events shaping the world in which we live.

The University of Alberta invites you to submit nominations for individuals or organizations who would make outstanding lecturers.

We gratefully acknowledge the hard work of the donors and volunteers who help make the Lectureship a success.