Robert Diab

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Human Rights and National Security
Professor W. Wesley Pue
North Vancouver
Vanier Scholarship
Why did you decide to pursue a graduate degree?

I did my Master's in Law at UBC and looked at how Canadian law had changed in response to 9/11. I was struck by certain facets of Canada's counter-terror policy, especially in relation to foreign suspects of terror. After expanding my thesis into a book titled Guantanamo North (Fernwood, 2008), I wanted to go further - to pursue the question of what motivates extreme measures in national security, and why reform efforts have largely failed to curb them.

Why did you decide to study at UBC?

I've had a very positive experience at UBC, and the opportunity to work with tremendous scholars and mentors -- most closely with Professors Wesley Pue and Robin Elliot, but others as well. There are also so many interesting things happening at UBC - events, symposia, research centres - so many intellectual resources to draw upon.

What was the best surprise about UBC or life in Vancouver?

Tapping into a community of other people who have similar interests, but who have also broadened my horizons immensely by sharing a world of other interests and experiences.

What do you hope to accomplish with your research?

I hope to provide a basis for a more effective strategy for reform of extreme practices in national security. I also seek to shed light on the broader significance of deeper shifts in our legal and political culture. For example, what does it mean for the future of the rule of law in Canada, and other western nations, that a majority of the population has become indifferent to these rather radical departures from due process and other liberal legal values?

What has winning a major award meant to you?

It's an encouraging sign that others are interested in the questions that I think are important. It will also help me pursue my research with greater focus and fewer distractions; it also enables more travel to conferences and exchanges that help bring new perspectives and insight into the issues I’m pursuing.

What advice do you have for new graduate students?

To try to make the most of the opportunity to connect with people, attend events, and make use of the many resources available to you at UBC.


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