René Provost

Current affiliation:
Full Professor, Faculty of Law, McGill University

Professor René Provost specializes in international human rights, humanitarian law, and legal theory.

Professor Provost specializes in international justice, including the role of the International Criminal Court and other national, regional and international judicial institutions. He is also interested in the protection of victims of war under international humanitarian law and international human rights law. His work probes the implications of a pluralistic vision of law in these areas, particularly the effectiveness of international law in influencing the behaviour of armed non-state actors.

Trudeau project

What should an insurgent group do when it captures someone who has committed serious crimes, even war crimes or crimes against humanity?

René Provost's Trudeau project seeks to move the discussion beyond the headlines to ask whether there are conditions under which it might be legitimate for a non-state armed group to apply justice through the creation of insurgent courts. The project will engage a multidisciplinary working group to compile and analyze the practice of non-state courts in various wars, and map out the legal and political implications of an attempt to infuse justice and fairness in these proceedings. Ultimately, the project seeks to foster public and intellectual dialogue that can sustain policy innovation concerning insurgent justice.

Project objectives

To move the discussion beyond the beaten paths so as to address the difficult question of whether there are any conditions under which it might be legitimate for an armed, non-state group to apply justice by establishing insurgent courts. This project will gather information on and analyze the practices of non-state courts in various conflicts and describe the legal and political consequences of attempts to enforce standards of justice and equity in such proceedings. The ultimate goal of this project is to promote a public intellectual dialogue that will support innovative policy with regard to insurgent justice. Learn more.

René Provost is professor of law at McGill University, where he specializes in international human rights, humanitarian law, and legal theory. A graduate of Université de Montréal (LLB), the University of California at Berkeley (LL.M.), and the University of Oxford (DPhil), René served as law clerk to the Honourable Justice Claire L’Heureux-Dubé at the Supreme Court of Canada in 1989-1990 and taught international law at Lehigh University in Pennsylvania in 1991. He joined the Faculty of Law of McGill University in 1994, serving as associate dean (academic) from 2001 to 2003. From 2005 to 2010 he was the founding director of the McGill Centre for Human Rights and Legal Pluralism.

He is the author of International Human Rights and Humanitarian Law (Cambridge University Press, 2002), the editor of State Responsibility in International Law (Ashgate-Dartmouth, 2002) and of Mapping the Legal Boundaries of Belonging: Religion and Multiculturalism from Israel to Canada (Oxford University Press, 2015), and the co-editor of International Law Chiefly as Applied and Interpreted in Canada, 7t Ed. (Emond Montgomery, 2014), Confronting Genocide (Springer Verlag, 2011), and Dialogues on Human Rights and Legal Pluralism (Springer Verlag, 2013). He is currently completing work on The Centaur Jurisprudence Project, an interdisciplinary team project he directs on the interaction of law and culture before legal institutions.

  • February 22, 2018
    From the Teslin Tlingit Peacemaker Court in Yukon to the Akwesasne Mohawk Court in Ontario-Quebec-New York, Indigenous communities are increasingly formalizing their own judicial practices and institutions. Despite the diversity among Indigenous legal norms across Canada, there are commonalities in the values and approaches they embody as well as a shared aspiration towards self-governance.