Co-Director, ARC International
Originally from New Zealand, John Fisher completed a B.A., LL.B. (Hons) in 1989, spent two years as a Judges’ Clerk, and moved to Canada in 1991, where he completed an LL.M. thesis on Lesbian and Gay Rights in International Law at Queen’s University in 1992.
John became the founding Executive Director of Egale Canada (Canada’s national LGBT equality organization), a position which he held from 1994 to 2002.
He participated in the UN World Conference on Human Rights in Vienna in 1993, where he became the first openly gay person to address a UN World Conference.
Fisher has taught courses on Lesbian and Gay Legal Issues at the University of Ottawa, and on Selected Topics in the Charter of Rights at the University of Carleton. John was presented with a “Heroes Award” by the Metropolitan Community Church of Toronto, and has twice been named Grand Marshall of Toronto’s Lesbian and Gay Pride parade. He received the Capital Xtra “Lifetime Achievement Award”, has been featured in the Canadian Lesbian and Gay Archives’ “Proud Lives” photo exhibit, and received a “Heroes’ Award” from the Sexual Orientation and Gender Identity Conference of the Canadian Bar Association. Fisher has delivered the Annual Lecture of the McGill Law Journal, has been keynote speaker at the Canada Millennium Scholarship Foundation Annual Excellence Awards, co-authored a published article on the Yogyakarta Principles with Prof. Michael O’Flaherty and has been invited to deliver conference presentations and workshops in every region of the globe.
As co-founder of ARC International, Fisher has worked with Co-Director Kim Vance to strengthen cross-regional networks, enhance international standards, develop accessible materials and build the capacity of groups and individuals to become engaged in UN processes.
In 2005, Fisher relocated to Geneva as ARC’s representative to better facilitate NGO engagement with UN human rights mechanisms. He has been involved in both the institution-building and substantive work of the UN Human Rights Council since its inception, has developed a broad range of positive relationships with states, NGOs, special procedures, treaty body members, OHCHR staff and others, and works actively to connect human rights defenders around the world with the work of the UN.