Dr. David Webster

Dr. David Webster

Dr. David Webster

Associate Professor

Office: FB308
Email: dwebste4@uwo.ca

David Webster is associate professor of Human Rights Studies at King’s University College. A historian by training, he earned his Ph.D. at the University of British Columbia in 2005, and has previously taught at the University of Regina, in Saskatchewan, and Bishop’s University, in Quebec. His research focus lies in Southeast Asia and the interplay of human rights and international relations, including in Canada’s foreign relations. Dr. Webster is a senior fellow at the Bill Graham Centre for Contemporary International History at the University of Toronto and an associate of the Wilson Institute at McMaster University. He works on human rights archives, including in the direction of the History Beyond Borders and Timor International Solidarity Archive (TISA) web projects. In 2015, he accepted the Order of Timor-Leste (East Timor) on behalf of the East Timor Alert Network of Canada. He currently serves on the international advisory committee of Centro Nacional Chega!, the Timor-Leste centre for truth and reconciliation.

Advocacy and Service

Prior to entering academia, Webster was a human rights activist and journalist. He coordinated the East Timor Alert Network in 1991-96, writing and presenting testimony to United Nations committees and coordinating advocacy work and research. He has written policy briefs for the International Centre for Human Rights and Democratic Development, KAIROS Canadian Ecumenical Justice Initiatives, the Canadian Advocacy Group on Indonesia, and the International Campaign for the Innu and the Earth. He wrote widely on human rights issues for the Catholic New Times and has published in Le Devoir, The Globe and Mail, the Toronto Star and other outlets. He remains active with several human rights organizations.

In academic life, Webster is an active peer reviewer and committee for university presses and federal granting agencies, a member of the council of the Canadian Historical Association, and serves on the Timor-Leste Studies Initiative of the Association of Asian Studies. He is a former book review editor for activehistory.ca and the Journal of American East Asian Relations, a former “lessons of history” editor for International Journal, and a former vice-president of the Canadian Council for Southeast Asian Studies. In his home region of Quebec, he has chaired the Eastern Townships Resource Centre and the board of his local elementary school.


  • HRS 1000G – Discovering Human Rights
  • HRS 2800E – Introduction to Human Rights
  • HRS 2800F – Human Rights in Canada

Dr. Webster seeks to create a collaborative rather than adversarial classroom, striving to build student engagement and participation by creating a positive environment that helps students centre themselves in their own learning. He holds two divisional teaching awards from Bishop’s University. He has developed online courses and collaborate with students and research assistants on several publications, including one student-authored textbook.

Selected Publications


Challenge the Strong Wind: Canada and East Timor 1975-99 (Vancouver: University of British Columbia Press, 2020).

Fire and the Full Moon: Canada and Indonesia in a Decolonizing World (Vancouver: University of British Columbia Press, 2009).

Editor (with Vannessa Hearman and Marisa Ramos Gonçalves). Remembering the Past, Building the Future: New Ways of Seeing Timor-Leste (Coimbra: TLSA Portugal, 2021).

Editor (with Greg Donaghy). A Samaritan State Revisited: Historical Perspectives on Canadian Foreign Aid (Calgary: University of Calgary Press, 2019).

Editor, Flowers in the Wall: Truth and Reconciliation in East Timor, Indonesia and Melanesia (Calgary: University of Calgary Press, 2017).


“Pan-Africanism in the Pacific: Race and the international construction of West Papuan identity,” forthcoming in Studies in Ethnicity and Nationalism.

Optons pour la transparence en ce qui concerne les genocides,” Le Devoir, 31 July 2021.

The myth of Canada as a voice for human rights,” Policy Options, 4 March2020

The Six Nations and a century of Canada-Indigenous clashes over the 'rule of law',” Ricochet, 2 March 2020.

“End of the innocents: engagement and decolonization in the Global South since 1968.” Canadian Foreign Policy 24 no. 2 (2018). Runner-up for best article prize in the journal, 2018.

“Languages of Human Rights in Timor-Leste,” Asia Pacific Perspectives 11 no. 1 (August 2013): 5-21.

“Development Advisors in a Time of Cold War and Decolonization: The UN Technical Assistance Administration, 1950-1959,” Journal of Global History 6 no. 2 (2011): 249-272.

“Canada and Bilateral Human Rights Dialogues,” Canadian Foreign Policy 16 no. 3 (2010): 43-63.

“Canadian Catholics and the East Timor Struggle, 1975-99,” Historical Studies 75 (2009): 63-82. (Winner of best article award.)