Professor Fernand de Varennes (Canada)


United Nations Special Rapporteur on Minority Issues
Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights

Keynote Speaker
Presentation title:
Leaving No One Behind: The Significance of Linguistic Rights as Human Rights for Sign Languages

Date: Tuesday, 23 July 2019



Dr Fernand de Varennes is Extraordinary Professor at the Faculty of Law of the University of Pretoria (South Africa) and Cheng Yu Tung Visiting Professor at the Faculty of Law of the University of Hong Kong (China).

He also holds since August 2017 the mandate of United Nations Special Rapporteur on Minority Issues. He is renown as one of the world’s leading experts on the international human rights of minorities and has focused particularly on issues surrounding languages.

He also has played a prominent role in promoting young Asian scholars in human rights as Editor-in-Chief of the Asia-Pacific Journal on Human Rights and the Law and has worked and written in areas of international law such as the prevention of ethnic conflicts, the rights of migrants, the relationship between ethnicity, human rights and democracies, as well as the use of federalism and other forms of autonomy arrangements to balance competing cultural interests.

He completed his law degrees in Canada (LLB, Moncton), the United Kingdom (LLM, London School of Economics and Political Science), and the Netherlands (Dr Juris, Maastricht). Dr de Varennes’ research and publications record spans some 200 publications in more than 30 languages. In recognition of his work and achievements in the field of human rights and the protection of minorities, he has received accolades from Africa, Asia, and Europe, including the 2004 Linguapax Award (Barcelona, Spain), the Knight’s Cross of the Order of Merit of the Republic of Poland, the Tip O’Neill Peace Fellowship (Northern Ireland, UK), and was nominated for the Gwangju Prize for Human Rights (Gwangju, South Korea).