Media Releases

U of T panel discussion on the Syrian refugee crisis & policy options for Canada

December 2, 2015

TORONTO, ON-   The global paralysis on the Syrian crisis has led to the largest refugee crisis ever witnessed by the international community, with millions of Syrians being uprooted and displaced. The Canadian government has announced a plan to welcome 25,000 refugees by the end of February in 2016 but much work needs to be done to welcome new Canadians.

The Canadian Centre for the Responsibility to Protect (CCR2P), the Hart House Debates Committee and the University of Toronto Refugee Alliance will be hosting a panel discussion on Dec 2, 2015 to explore the impetus behind this refugee crisis, discuss the human and global impacts, and consider policy options that Canada and the international community can pursue to uphold our collective responsibility.

The panel discussion will feature prominent experts in the field, including:

  • Ambassador Paul Heinbecker, Former Permanent Representative of Canada to the United Nations & Advisory Board Member of the Canadian Centre for R2P;
  • Leen Al Zaiback, Board Member of Lifeline Syria;
  • Kristen Marshall, a Senior Refugee Law Trainer at Legal Aid Ontario.
  • Moderator: Raja Khouri, Director of the Canadian Arab Institute.

WHEN: Dec 2, 2015 at 7PM

WHERE: Hart House Debates Room (7 Hart House Circle) at the University of Toronto.


Paul Heinbecker has served as Permanent Representative of Canada to the United Nations in New York, Ambassador of Canada to Germany and Minister (Political Affairs) at the Canadian Embassy in Washington, as well as in more junior positions in Ankara, Stockholm and the OECD. In Ottawa, he has been Chief Foreign Policy Advisor to then Prime Minister Mulroney, Assistant Secretary to the Cabinet for Foreign Policy and Defence, and Assistant Deputy Minister for International Security and Global Affairs in the Department of External/Foreign Affairs. Paul was an architect of Canada’s human security agenda, helped negotiate an end to the Kosovo war, headed the Canadian delegation to the Climate Change negotiations in Kyoto and represented Canada on the UN Security Council. At the UN he was a leading opponent of the Iraq war, and an advocate of the International Criminal Court and the Responsibility to Protect.

Leen Al Zaiback is a senior board member of the Toronto based Life Line Syria and the co-founder and director of Jusoor, or Bridges, an international NGO dedicated to the education of indigent Syrian youth. A graduate of the University of Toronto, Leen has also worked at Queen’s Park as a Policy Advisor and with Free the Children as the Senior Manager for Donor Engagement. Leen is an active philanthropist in the arts; she sits on the Young Patron’s Circle of Massey Hall and Roy Thompson Hall and is Chair of the Toronto Arts Foundation Emerging Leaders Circle.

Kristin Marshall has worked to enhance access to justice for over 20 years. She has represented refugees and immigrants held in detention, at the Immigration and Refugee Board, and at the Federal Court of Canada. She has developed training and clear language resources for immigrants, refugees and survivors of domestic violence, and is currently the Senior Refugee Law Trainer at Legal Aid Ontario. She was clinical instructor in the refugee division at Downtown Legal Services for several years and is currently working with students on a project investigating the impact of Canada’s refugee policies on sexual minorities and persons living with or vulnerable to HIV with the International Human Rights Program. This project involved field work in Turkey and Jordan concerning resettlement of Syrian refugees, and in Mexico, to examine human rights violations there.

Raja G. Khouri is president of the Canadian Arab Institute, a policy think-and-do tank he co-founded in 2011. He is a commissioner with the Ontario Human Rights Commission, committee member of Human Rights Watch Canada and co-founder of the Canadian Arab/Jewish Leadership Dialogue Group. Raja formerly worked as an international consultant in organizational development and capacity building, and served on several governmental and civil society bodies. He has chaired conferences, given and moderated lectures, given numerous media interviews, and published commentaries in journals and major Canadian dailies. He’s the author of Arabs in Canada: Post 9/11.


The Responsibility to Protect, also referred to as RtoP or R2P, is an international principle coined in 2001 under the leadership of the Canadian government and later adopted at the 2005 World Summit by 150 heads of government. R2P states that when sovereign states are unable or unwilling to fulfill their responsibility to protect their own populations from mass atrocities such as genocide, ethnic cleansing, crimes against humanity and war crimes, the international community has the responsibility to do so.


The Canadian Centre for R2P, based at Munk School of Global Affairs, University of Toronto, is a leading Canadian, non-partisan and non-profit research organization which aims to promote scholarly engagement and political implementation of the R2P principle.  (

  • Media registration is available for all of our on-site events.
  • Media are required to present proper identification for accreditation.


For media inquiries, please contact:

Tina J. Park
Executive Director
Canadian Centre for the Responsibility to Protect | 1-416-828-2361|