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Jonas-Sébastien Beaudry

  • Scholar 2009
  • Alumni
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Assistant Professor, Peter A. Allard School of Law
University of British Columbia

Jonas-Sébastien Beaudry is a legal scholar working at the intersection of law, ethics and disability studies.

He was the Boulton Research and Teaching Fellow at the McGill Faculty of Law for 2013-2014, where he undertook a research project on the access to justice of witnesses with mental disabilities and designed a course on the theoretical foundations of disability law.

He received his D.Phil. from Oxford University, where he taught two courses: “Human Rights in Latin America” and “Human Rights and Global Justice.” He continued his work on disability ethics as a Visiting Adjunct Professor in the Philosophy Department at San Francisco State University before going to McGill.

Jonas graduated from the transsystemic program of common law and civil law from McGill University and obtained a master of laws from Harvard Law School, under the supervision of critical legal scholar Roberto M. Unger.

He is a member of the Quebec Bar. He served as a law clerk for the Honorable Marie Deschamps at the Supreme Court of Canada and as a law trainee with Judges Kenneth Keith and Peter Tomka at the International Court of Justice, in The Hague. He held the Harvard Human Rights Program, the Henigson Human Rights Fellowship, at the Centre for Justice and International Law (CEJIL), the NGO representing the largest number of victims under the Inter-American System for the Protection of Human Rights, in Buenos Aires. As a law student, he had previously worked for the Canadian Human Rights Commission and interned at the Inter-American Court of Human Rights, in Costa Rica.

As a Pierre Elliott Trudeau scholar, he completed his doctoral thesis at the Faculty of Law of the University of Oxford, on the moral status of persons with severe cognitive disabilities. His dissertation studies the justifications of the rights of people with severe mental disability.

Jonas’s doctoral and postdoctoral research are in line with his fundamental interest in detecting and explaining how legal structures can contribute to exclude directly or indirectly certain groups of people (women, indigenous people, the poor, people with disabilities), as exemplified in his publications. He published a book on freedom of expression in Latin America at the Presses de l’Université Laval and various articles in the fields of critical legal theory, human rights and discrimination, ethics and disability studies. His current research project focusses on the obstacles faced by people with mental disabilities to act as witnesses in a court of law.

Experience as a Trudeau Scholar

The Trudeau Foundation helped me pursue my doctoral studies at the University of Oxford law faculty, which has special expertise in the philosophy of law. Studying there allowed me to thoroughly analyse theoretical questions about the foundations of the rights of disabled people.

The generous amount of the Trudeau scholarship and the annual travel allowance significantly transformed my doctoral experience. In my case, the Trudeau scholarship enabled me to take part in a bioethics course at NYU and to participate in many conferences, including the Amnesty Lectures at Oxford. I also visited world-renowned researchers working in the field of disability, including Anita Silvers, professor and chair of the philosophy department at San Francisco State University, and Eva Feder Kittay, professor at Stony Brook University (New York). I volunteered at L’Arche, a community that cares for mentally disabled people in Trosly (France), which gave me the opportunity to live with mentally disabled people and add a practical aspect to my theoretical research. While there, I had the privilege of speaking with the founder, Jean Vanier. And, finally, I was able to work with Carolyn Ells, associate professor in the biomedical ethics unit at McGill, and to develop deeper ties with the academic community where I hope to work. The various Trudeau events also helped me network by introducing me to exceptional academics and professionals, some of whom have become my friends.