The appointment was made by the Governor-General of Canada. Members of the Order of Canada are selected by a panel chaired by the Chief Justice of Canada. Appointment as an Officer in the Order of Canada recognises 'a lifetime of achievement and merit of a high degree, especially in service to Canada or to humanity at large'.
The Governor-General of Canada is authorised to appoint a maximum of sixty-four persons each year as Officers in the Order of Canada.
Professor Schabas, who is a Canadian citizen, will be inducted into the Order of Canada by the new Governor-General of Canada, Michaëlle Jean, at a ceremony to be held in Ottawa later in the year.
Congratulating Professor Schabas on the prestigious honour bestowed on him, Dr Iognáid Ó Muircheartaigh, President of NUI Galway said: We are delighted and proud that Professor Schabas has been awarded Canada's highest civilian honour. A legal scholar of international renown, Professor Schabas is an outstanding author, teacher and human rights advocate. As Director of the Irish Centre for Human Rights, Professor Schabas leads academic staff and students in the study and promotion of human rights and humanitarian law.
William Schabas is distinguished for his expertise in the fields of international human rights law, international criminal law and international humanitarian law. His many books and articles, published in both English and French, have been translated into many languages, and are regularly cited by the world's leading courts and tribunals.
Professor Schabas has often served in international human rights monitoring functions for such international non-governmental organisations as Amnesty International and the International Federation of Human Rights. He has participated in missions to such countries as Rwanda, Sudan, Burundi, Cambodia and the Russian Federation. William Schabas was one of three international members of the Sierra Leone Truth and Reconciliation Commission, which presented its final report in 2004.