Bill Fenrick (LLB’73) recognized for work in international humanitarian law
The Dalhousie Law Alumni Association is proud to announce that Bill Fenrick (BA, MA, LLB’73, LLM) has been selected to receive the 2013 Weldon Award for Unselfish Public Service in recognition of his lifetime of work in international humanitarian law (the body of law which attempts to regulate conduct in armed conflict) and excellence in the legal profession. He has a distinguished career of over 40 years and is widely recognized as a leading Canadian expert in international humanitarian law.
Mr. Fenrick was born in Toronto and attended Dalhousie Law School after a short period as a naval officer, graduating in 1973. He was a legal officer in the Office of the Judge Advocate General from 1974 to 1994 where he specialized in international law and was, at various points in time, Director of International Law, Director of Legal Training, and Director of Operational Law. Throughout his time in JAG, he tended to carry responsibility for international humanitarian law around with him from job to job. By the time he left JAG, that office placed considerably more stress on international humanitarian law and that body of law is now one of the major focuses of concern in the JAG.
In 1992, while still serving in JAG, Mr. Fenrick was appointed by the Secretary General of the United Nations to a Commission of Experts tasked with investigating allegations of war crimes in the territory of the former Yugoslavia. While on the Commission, Mr. Fenrick acted as the Rapporteur for Legal Issues and the Rapporteur for On Site Investigations. He spent extended periods on the ground in the territory of the former Yugoslavia from 1992 to 1994 and, among other things: he directed mass grave excavations in Croatia, an unusual role for a lawyer; he conducted legal analyses of battlefield activity in Sarajevo while the fighting was underway; and he was involved in studies concerning the use of rape as a tool of war. On one memorable occasion, to him, he was briefly detained by Croatian Serb authorities because of unauthorized investigation of a mass gravesite.
Mr. Fenrick retired from the Office of the JAG in 1994 when the Commission of Experts completed its mission and went to work for the United Nations from 1994 to 2004 in the Office of the Prosecutor of the International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia. In the Prosecutor’s Office he was the Senior Legal Adviser responsible for the Legal Advisory Section and as such he was the senior adviser to the Prosecutor on international law issues, including international humanitarian law. While in the Prosecutor’s Office, he was involved, among other tasks, in advising and arguing on issues such as jurisdiction, command responsibility, and combat offences such as unlawful sniping and unlawful shelling. One particular task was preparation of a report to the Prosecutor on NATO bombing activities over Yugoslavia in 1999 as a result of the Kosovo problem.
In 2004, Mr. Fenrick retired from the United Nations and returned to Halifax. He taught a course in International Humanitarian Law and co-taught a course in International Criminal Law with Professor Rob Currie at the Schulich School of Law for several years until retiring yet again in 2011. At the present time he is teaching a course on War, Law, and History to interested seniors at the Seniors College Association of Nova Scotia (SCANS).
Over the course of his career, Mr. Fenrick has also published over forty articles and reviews.
Mr. Fenrick’s long and extraordinarily accomplished career has demonstrated the utmost dedication to public service. He has served the international community very well – he is a credit to his country and his alma mater.