Douglas M Johnston Lectures

The Douglas M Johnston Lecture is an annual lecture that began in 2009 to honour the late Douglas M Johnson. Invited speakers are selected for their demonstrated leadership in the field of public policy and their interest in promoting social and environmental justice.

Douglas M Johnston was a leading teacher, scholar, and writer in the international marine and environmental law community. His numerous contributions to the Schulich School of Law included the development of the marine and environmental law program, the strengthening of the graduate program and the enhancement of the faculty's strong scholarly reputation. He published ground-breaking scholarly works on the regulation of international fisheries, the theory of ocean-boundary, treaty law and the history of international law. His last book, which he completed very shortly before he died, received a posthumous award from the American Society of International Law.

12th Annual Douglas M. Johnston Lecture

DATE: Thursday February 18, 2021
TIME: 6:00-7:30 pm (Atlantic Time Zone)
PLACE: Virtual Webinar, please RSVP for this event at:

Featuring Carmen G. Gonzalez and James T. Gathii both Professors of Law from Loyola University Chicago School of Law, USA

This event is co-sponsored by the Schulich School of Law, SSHRC Research Development Fund and the Marine & Environmental Law Institute at Dalhousie University.

Co-presented by the Global Network for Human Rights & the Environment and AfronomicsLaw.

Please view the Poster for more details.

Download the lecture here.

11th Annual Douglas M. Johnston Lecture

DATE: Thursday October 10, 2020
TIME: 7:00 pm (Atlantic Time Zone)
PLACE: Ondaatje Hall, Marion McCain Building, 6135 University Avenue, Halifax

Featuring Dr. Dianne Saxe, President, Saxe Facts.

This event is co-sponsored by the College of Sustainabiltyand the Marine & Environmental Law Institute at Dalhousie University.

Please view the Poster for more details.

Download the lecture here.




DATE: Thursday October 18, 2018
Ondaatje Hall, Marion McCain Building, 6135 University Avenue

All Welcome, Free & Open to the Public

This event is part of the ESS Lecture Series and is co-sponsored by the College of Sustainability and the Marine & Environmental Law Institute at Dalhousie University

View Poster for more details


9th Annual Douglas M Johnston Lecture 2017 - 2018


DATE: Thursday November 2, 2017
 Ondaatje Hall, Marion McCain Building, 6135 University Avenue

All Welcome, Free & Open to the Public

This event is part of the ESS Lecture Series and is co-sponsored by the College of Sustainability and the Marine & Environmental Law Institute at Dalhousie University

Mary J. Simon, QC, OC Special Arctic Representative to Canada's Minister of Indigenous & Northern Affairs

"Building Arctic Leadership: Prosperous People and a Healthy Environment"

Mary Simon has advanced critical social, economic and human rights issues for Canadian Inuit regionally, nationally and internationally.  She recently published A New Shared Arctic Leadership Model with recommendations on education, infrastructure and environmental protection in Canada’s Arctic. Mary lives in Kuujjuaq, Nunavik (Arctic Quebec) and is an Officer of the Order of Canada, Recipient of the National Order of Quebec and countless other prestigious international honours.

For more information click on the Poster


8th Annual Douglas M Johnston Lecture 2016 - 2017


Elizabeth Mrema, Director Division of Environmental Law and Conventions United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP)

"Progressive Global Environmental Constitutionalism and the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development"

The state of the global environment is deteriorating, despite the expanding body of international environmental law. Today, three quarters of the world’s constitutions contain references to environmental provisions. What does this mean as we focus on delivering on the environmental dimension of Agenda 2030? Tentatively titled “Progressive Environmental Constitutionalism and the 2030 Agenda”, this talk will highlight that, although it is still a relatively new concept, there is a discernible trend towards the constitutionalisation of environmental care that enables the identification of the emergence of a specialised focused form of constitutionalism that is solely concerned with environmental matters.

Environmental constitutionalism, which "represents the confluence of constitutional law, international law, human rights, and environmental law" embodies a transformative approach that relies on constitutions to provide for the architecture of environmental governance and improve environmental protection through various constitutional features such as fundamental rights and duties, principles of environmental governance, and the rule of law. Given prevailing socio-political, environmental and economic conditions as well as the immensely divergent legal cultures of a kaleidoscopic world, what do the specific elements and reach of environmental constitutionalism in different countries look like?

The talk will explain, using a few country examples, why this is an important apex of regulatory phenomenon, both at the analytical and normative levels, and how it can be (and is being) used especially with a view to strengthening the institutions of environmental law and governance in the context of implementing Agenda 2030 for Sustainable Development.

Download the lecture here.


7th Annual Douglas M Johnston Lecture 2015 - 2016

7th Annual Douglas M Johnston Lecture

“The Global Ocean Refuge System: What if You’re Not Part of the Solution?”


Elliot Norse, PhD
Founder & Chief Scientist, Marine Conservation Institute

Chief Scientist (Seattle, WA) - Dr Elliott A Norse has worked at the conservation science-policy interface for his entire career. After earning his BS in Biology from Brooklyn College, he studied the ecology of blue crabs in the Caribbean and the tropical East Pacific during his doctoral years at University of Southern California and his postdoctoral fellowship years at University of Iowa. Starting in 1978 he worked at the US Environmental Protection Agency, White House Council on Environmental Quality (where he defined biological diversity as conservation's overarching goal), Ecological Society of America, The Wilderness Society and Ocean Conservancy before founding Marine Conservation Institute in 1996. Elliott's 150+ publications include Global Marine Biological Diversity: A Strategy for Building Conservation into Decision Making (1993) and Marine Conservation Biology: The Science of Maintaining the Sea’s Biodiversity (2005). He is a Pew Fellow in Marine Conservation, was President of the Society for Conservation Biology's Marine Section, received the Nancy Foster Award for Habitat Conservation from the National Marine Fisheries Service, was named Brooklyn College 2008 Distinguished Alumnus and winner of the 2012 Chairman’s Medal from the Seattle Aquarium.


October 8, 2015


6th Annual Douglas M Johnston Lecture 2014 - 2015

6th Annual Douglas M Johnston Lecture  

"How Did Canada Go From Sustainability Leader to Laggard? And How Do We Get Back on Track?"

The Honourable Elizabeth May, OC
Green Party Leader, Member of Parliament for Saanich-Gulf Islands

Elizabeth May is an environmentalist, writer, activist, lawyer and leader of the Green Party of Canada. She has a long record as a committed and dedicated advocate – for social justice, for the environment, for human rights and for pragmatic economic solutions.

Co-sponsored with the College of Sustainability

Download the event poster [PDF - 175 kB] for more information.

Thursday, October 16, 2014

If you're interested in streaming this lecture, please create a (free) account and then visit this link:

5th Annual Douglas M Johnston Lecture 2013 - 2014

5th Annual Douglas M Johnston Ocean Governance Lecture

"International Law and the 'Mis-anthropocene': Responding to the Geoengineering Challenge"

Professor Karen Scott
University of Canterbury, New Zealand

October 30, 2013

4th Annual Douglas M Johnston Lecture 2012 - 2013

4th Annual Douglas M Johnston Lecture

"The UN Convention of the Law of the Sea at Thirty: Achievements and Challenges"

Judge Tullio Rodolfo Treves
State University of Milan

Professor Treves is well-known internationally for his expertise in public international law and most recently served as Judge of the International Tribunal for the Law of the Sea. Recently he joined Curtis Mallet-Prevost Colt & Mosle in Milan as a senior public international law consultant – his first private practice role following 40 years in academia. He also chaired the Tribunal’s Committee of the Whole that drafted the Rules of the Tribunal. He has advised governments all over the world in major disputes involving maritime delimitation and other public international law matters, and has acted as arbitrator and as counsel before the International Court of Justice and international arbitral tribunals. Professor Treves is concluding his tenure of more than 30 years as Professor of Public and Private International Law at the Law Faculty of the State University of Milan and has taught at institutions in various other countries. He has also published widely on international law topics.

October 10, 2012

3rd Annual Douglas M Johnston Lecture 2011 - 2012

3rd Annual Douglas M Johnston Lecture

"Polar Ocean Governance in the Twenty-First Century"

Professor Donald R Rothwell
Australian National Univer­sity in Canberra

The topic of polar ocean governance encompassed an integral part of Canada’s national identity in the Ca­nadian Arctic, and on the Antarctic, which plays a vital role in the planet’s cli­mate, environmental and ocean systems. Though consid­ered remote, harsh and inhospitable, the two regions are becoming increasingly accessible for ocean uses, promis­ing economic benefits and potential adverse effects on the polar environment. Both regions are of interest to the international community and raise questions as to their present and future governance, at the national, regional and global levels. Professor Rothwell is professor of International Law at the College of Law at the Australian National Univer­sity in Canberra. He is also Assistant Head of School, Director – LLM Programs, and Deputy Director of the Australian Centre for Military Law and Justice at the College of Law. His current positions follow in the wake of several important appointments in his career, includ­ing the prestigious Challis Professor of International Law and Directorship of the Sydney Centre for International and Global Law, University of Sydney. His research addresses many intersecting areas of inter­national law with a specific focus on law of the sea, law of polar regions, and implementation of international law within Australia. He is a prolific scholar, with over 150 articles and book chapters in international and Austra­lian publications, including 14 authored, co-authored or edited 14 books. His most recent book, co-authored with Tim Stephens and entitled The International Law of the Sea (Hart, 2010) promises to be a staple textbook for the teaching of the subject. Professor Rothwell has done extensive work on whaling issues in the Southern Ocean. He is presently working on projects assessing Antarctic security, international legal practice in Australia, and Arctic navigation, and is the current Co-Editor of the Australian Year Book of Inter­national Law. He is a regular media commentator on international law issues and has written opinion columns for all of the major daily newspapers in Australia.

September 20, 2011

2nd Annual Douglas M Johnston Lecture 2010 - 2011

2nd Annual Douglas M Johnston Lecture

"LNG Terminals in Eastern Maine and Canadian Control of its Coastal Waters"

Professor Jon Van Dyke
Richardson School of Law, University of Hawaii

Professor Van Dyke has been on the faculty at the University of Hawaii at Manoa William S. Richardson School of Law, since 1976. He is a Member of the International Editorial Board of Marine Policy (1988-present); a Member of the Board of Advisors of the Center for International Environmental Law, Washington, D.C. (1993-present) and a Member of the International Advisory Board, Law of the Sea Institute, based at the University of California at Berkeley Law School.

October 21, 2010

Launching of Annual Douglas M Johnston Lecture 2009 - 2010

Launching of the 1st Annual Douglas M Johnston Lecture

"Toward More Effective Counter Piracy Policy"

Professor John Norton Moore
Walter L Brown Professor of Law; Director, Center for Oceans Law and Policy; Director, Center for National Security Law
University of Virginia School of Law 

Professor Moore is former Ambassador of the United States to the Third United Nations Conference on the Law of the Sea and Chairman of the Board of the United States Institute of Peace.

October 1, 2009