“Have I not seen secret malignance strike down the helpless under cover of hypocritical might?”
“Have I not heard the silenced voice of justice weeping in solitude at might’s defiant outrages?”
These words written decades ago, by the Nobel Laureate Rabindranath Tagore, continue to resonate powerfully seventy years after the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. Injustice, inequality, discrimination, abuse of power, denial of rights, and mass violations of human rights continue.
In some of the liberal democracies, the social contract is unraveling. Social mobility has slowed and workers lives are more precarious. Inequality has increased, wealth and power concentration in fewer hands undermines democratic norms and institutions. A small group of internet companies dominate by monopoly over the data of billions of individuals and often exploit and exacerbate inequalities and divisions in society.
Contemporary racism has become more sophisticated and insidious against the backdrop of today’s formidable and complex challenges including COVID-19 pandemic, the climate emergency, socio-economic inequality, migration flows and ‘racial borders’, and surveillance capitalism; the impact of the global awakening to racism in the aftermath murder of George Floyd in May 2020 – upon governments, companies (especially in the technology sector), multilateral institutions (including UN bodies), and civil society organizations.
The politics of fear and division fuel hatred and threats to minorities. Around the globe, human indignity and suffering proliferates in a world of plenty. Our ability to know what is going on has never been greater. And yet, poverty and human rights abuses – individual and mass in scale – occur with all too common and apathetic frequency.
In 1963, the Reverend Martin Luther King, Jr. published, “Why We Can’t Wait.” Speak Truth to Power – this is what brave persons have done throughout history. It is what we must do – to close the gap between rhetoric and reality. We Can’t Wait.
I am motivated by the possibility of committed work, begun by institutions, citizens organizations, NGO’s, independent media, social movements (BLM, youth and climate activists, Indigenous Peoples, trade unions, etc) and legal advocacy to contribute to public reasoning, ask questions, help others, organize and fight – for a global civil society and human rights. Louise Arbour (former UNHCR) has said:
“Human rights work is like cleaning your house. You don’t do it once and say ‘That’s it.’ It’s day to day, part of our humanity.”
Each one of us bears responsibility to be our brother and sisters keeper. We must overcome the indifference and act. My commitment is to use advocacy, political action, and the law as a force for good. Speak truth to Power!
2014 – Certificate, French Honours Program
Institute for American Universities (IAU) Aix-en-Provence, France
2011 – Certificate, Negotiation Workshop
Harvard Institute of Negotiation, Harvard Law School
2010 – Masters Studies in International Human Rights Law
University of Oxford, United Kingdom
Dissertation – Terrorism Trials and the Judiciary: Does Diversity Matter?
1988 – Certificat d’Etudes Francaises, Institute Universitaire Americain
Centre d’Avignon, France
French Language Studies
1984 – Call to the Bar, Supreme Court of British Columbia
Call to the Bar and admission as Barrister & Solicitor of Supreme Court of British Columbia
1983 – Bachelors of Laws, University of Windsor
1980 – Bachelors of Arts, International Relations, University of British Columbia
Vancouver, British Columbia
Bill was raised in a pioneering immigrant family – his father was the first South Asian to settle in the Cariboo. The family faced and overcame many challenges. Bill’s father suffered a serious brain injury, and his mother took up manual jobs to support the family when Bill was only 10 years old. The family was an example of solidarity and perseverance.
Bill was a school and community leader and worked his way through university with student awards and working in the lumber mill. After graduating, he returned to practice law in Williams Lake, representing women, immigrants, children, workers and First Nations. His work was recognized with judicial appointment to Kamloops, where he served for over a decade. In recent years, he has served locally and internationally at a high level on human rights and justice issues.
Today, Bill and Satwinder, his wife, are raising their daughter and son with the same values Bill learned from his family: accountability and self-reliance, commitment to equality, social justice, and compassion.
Bill is a strong advocate for fairness and justice. He is able to reach across the divide and unite people. He is not afraid to tackle the tough issues and is a voice for the rights and dignity of others and for those who need help making ends meet.
Bill Sundhu’s professional work is recognized by appointment to the List of Counsel for the International Criminal Court, at the Hague, the Netherlands (war crimes, genocide, crimes against humanity) and selection to a panel of international experts to train judges in Tunisia, in human rights and administration of justice, in the aftermath of the “Arab Spring.” He served a multi-year term as an Executive Member of the National Criminal Justice Subsection of the Canadian Bar Association and he currently serves on the Board of Governors of the University of British Columbia.
Bill is an advocate for equality, diversity and inclusion. He is founding member of the Constitution of the BC Association of Multicultural Societies. He brings people together.
He and his family are proud to call Kamloops their home for the past 25 years. Nationality: Canadian
Languages: English, French (conversational), Punjabi (spoken)
MARTIN LUTHER KING, JR.