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Errol P. Mendes

Lawyer, author, professor

Professor Mendes is a lawyer, author, professor and has been an advisor to corporations, governments, civil society groups and the United Nations. His teaching, research and consulting interests include corporate law and governance, labour standards, diversity and ethics in the workplace, global governance, international business and trade law, constitutional law, international law (including anti-terrorism laws and policies) and human rights law and policy. He has been a Project Leader for conflict resolution, governance and justice projects in China, Thailand, Indonesia, Brazil, El Salvador, Sri Lanka and India.

Professor Mendes is a frequent speaker and media commentator on corporate governance, international trade, business and government ethics, constitutional and human rights topics across Canada and the world and has lectured on these topics in the United States, Europe, Asia and Latin America. He has been invited to present numerous briefs to the Parliament of Canada and has acted as an advisor to the government of Canada in these areas. He has also advised several of Canada’s largest corporations in the area of corporate governance, ethics and compliance.

In 2010, he was appointed Commissioner of the Ontario Human Rights Commission to assist the new mandate of the Commission focused on combating systemic discrimination in the Province of Ontario.

Professor Mendes has also been an advisor to several of Canada's largest corporations and worked with leading private sector companies and associations to establish an International Code of Ethics for Canadian Businesses, which was endorsed by former Canadian Foreign Affairs Minister Lloyd Axworthy on September 15, 1997. In 1999, in recognition of his work on business ethics in Canada, the Office of the Secretary General of the United Nation invited Professor Mendes to be an advisor on the Global Compact initiative of the Secretary General. Professor Mendes assisted in the development of the Global Compact.

Professor Mendes has taught, researched, consulted and published extensively in the area of Global Governance, International Business Law and Ethics, Constitutional Law and Human Rights Law.

He is Editor-in-Chief of Canada’s leading constitutional law journal, “The National Journal of Constitutional Law”. He is the author or co-editor of five books, including the landmark constitutional law text, co-edited with Senator G. Beaudoin, The Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms, 3rd Edition, Carswell, 1996 and the internationally recognized texts, Towards a Fair Global Labour market: Avoiding the New Slave Trade, Routledge, New York and London, 1999, (co-authored); Democratic Policing and Accountability: Global Perspectives, Ashgate, U.K., (co-edited); Between Crime and War, Terrorism, Democracy and the Constitution, Carswell, Toronto, 2003 (co-edited); Global Governance, Economy and Law, Routledge, New York and London, 2003.

Professor Mendes lead a 16-year (1993-2009) CIDA funded project on human rights in China in partnership with Beijing University, the leading academic institution in China. The project produced three landmark books co-edited by Professor Mendes (in both English and Mandarin) on human rights that included contributions from leading Chinese and Canadian intellectuals and practitioners: Human Rights, Chinese and Canadian Perspectives (1993); Bridging the Global Divide on Human Rights, A China-Canada Dialogue (2004) and Confronting Discrimination and Inequality in China, Chinese and Canadian Perspectives (2009.)

Since 1979, Professor Mendes has taught at law faculties across the country, including the University of Alberta, Edmonton from 1979 to 1984, the University of Western Ontario, London, Ontario from 1984 to 1992 and the University of Ottawa from 1992 to present. He was a visiting Professor at the Faculty of Law, McGill University and the Université de Montréal in 1992.

He was appointed in 1995 to a two-year term as a member of the Canadian Human Rights Tribunal Panel. He was re-appointed in 1997. He also has extensive experience as a Human Rights Adjudicator under the Ontario Human Rights Code.

Professor Mendes is also an experienced international commercial arbitrator and a member of the Canadian Panel of Arbitrators under the auspices of the International Chamber of Commerce’s Court of Arbitration. He has acted both as a sole International Commercial Arbitrator and as a member of International Commercial Arbitration Tribunals.
Professor Mendes was appointed by the Prime Minister of Canada as a Senior Advisor in the Privy Council Office of the Government of Canada during the academic year 2005-2006. In that position he advised the Clerk of the Privy Council on a range of issues including national security, diversity, national unity, foreign policy and corporate social responsibility.

In 2006, he was awarded the Walter S. Tarnopolsky Human Rights Award by the Canadian Section of the International Commission of Jurists and the Canadian Bar Association for his human rights work in Canada and across the world.

In 2009, he was a Visiting Professional at the International Criminal Court in the Hague, attached to the Office of the Prosecutor. In his advocacy and support of the Court, he has supported the work and advocacy of the World Federalist Movement which was one of the major global civil society groups that were key to the establishment of the first permanent global court with jurisdiction over the most serious international crimes. His book on the Court titled Peace and Justice at the International Criminal Court, A Court of Last Resort has been published in the fall of 2010, in Europe and North America by Edward Elgar Publishers Inc. The softcover version of the book was published in June of 2011.

Born in Kenya, East Africa, Professor Mendes obtained his Bachelor of Law degree from the University of Exeter, England, where he ranked first in his graduating class. He obtained his Master of Laws degree from the University of Illinois in the United States. He was called to the Bar of Ontario in 1986.
Western Business Must Walk the Talk in

Western Business Must Walk the Talk in Myanmar

Many people in Myanmar commemorated the 25th anniversary this September of one of the bloodiest crackdowns in the country's history. Western business should be encouraged to bring more socially responsible practices to Myanmar but should take critical measures to ensure that they not become part of the democracy-hindering problem rather than the solution.
09/25/2013 12:29 EDT
With Syria, the US and Britain Are Trapped in the

With Syria, the US and Britain Are Trapped in the Past

I have witnessed some of the best minds at Harvard and former top U.S. officials offer conflicting opinions on how to make the best of a very bad situation. But few have talked about how President Obama and Prime Minister of Great Britain, David Cameron are shackled by the follies of George W. Bush and Tony Blair in Iraq that cost needlessly so much blood and treasure.
09/16/2013 06:19 EDT
The Cost of Non-Intervention in

The Cost of Non-Intervention in Syria

If there is no outside intervention in Syria, the prospect of a stable Syria coming out of this conflict seems increasingly remote. What may well be the eventual outcome is a fractured country with different Sunni, Alawite, Christian, and Shiite forces creating their own safe havens within the country's borders. We have seen this before, and it rarely ends well.
09/03/2013 12:17 EDT
Should The Next Liberal Leader Follow Obama's

Should The Next Liberal Leader Follow Obama's Lead?

President Obama's liberal warrior call happens at the same time as the Liberal Party of Canada seeks not only a new leader, but also to reclaim its place as the alternative to the hard right government of Stephen Harper that has more in common with the hard right of the Republican Party than the Progressive Conservative Party of Diefenbaker, Joe Clark and Mulroney.
01/25/2013 10:59 EST
The Most Undemocratic Moments of

The Most Undemocratic Moments of 2012

As 2012 ends, what do we in Canada understood as enduring truths that can we take into living forward in 2013? On the home front, we should have understood that democracy in Canada can be taken too much for granted. We take for granted that Parliamentary democracy is only as effective as the power concentrated in the Prime Minister's Office allows it to be. In the wrong hands, it can make MPs mostly irrelevant, as demonstrated by the Harper PMO.
12/26/2012 05:28 EST
Don't Let Extremists Speak For

Don't Let Extremists Speak For You

The fact that most governments and citizens in the west supported the cause of democracy and human rights in the countries of the Arab Spring shows that there is a growing clash of extremists rather than a clash of civilizations. There is a urgent need for leaders in the U.S., Canada and the west to demonstrate to the moderate majorities in all their countries that the extremists in their midst should not be allowed to speak for them.
09/19/2012 05:32 EDT
Harper Shrugs Off Charter

Harper Shrugs Off Charter Celebrations

Can a single constitutional document change the evolution of a society? I would argue that happened with the Canadian people when the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms was signed on April 17, 1982 by the Queen on Parliament Hill. On April 17, 2012, we should all be celebrating the 30th Anniversary of this historic document.
05/04/2012 06:13 EDT
What Do Climate Change and the Titanic Have in

What Do Climate Change and the Titanic Have in Common?

Just like the Titanic, the wealthy and most adaptable from the "First Class World" will jump into the lifeboats and try to save their most "worthy" citizens, while the poorest and the most vulnerable in the "Third Class World" will go down into waters and die when the "ship" has hit the two, three or four-degree iceberg.
04/11/2012 09:21 EDT
Harper Shuts Out Committees on

Harper Shuts Out Committees on Crime

The Tories are invoking closure on the omnibus Crime Bill. Canadians may be sleepwalking while the seat of their country's democracy is being slowly choked. We barely have a properly functioning Parliament due to the anti-democratic instincts of the Harper Conservatives.
02/03/2012 07:12 EST
Canadian Economy Ain't So Rosy, Mr.

Canadian Economy Ain't So Rosy, Mr. Harper

Time is running out for Canada to dispense with the divisive wedge politics that has exacerbated the inequality gap. It is vital for those who care about the country's sustainable economic future to develop Canada-wide policies and actions to rectify the distressing picture painted by new stats from the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development.
12/12/2011 12:09 EST
Human Smuggling Bill Just a Political

Human Smuggling Bill Just a Political Game?

If the evidence from independent non-partisan groups have concluded that the Harper government's human smuggling legislation is really not about curtailing human smuggling, what is the real political rationale for it? It is not unreasonable to suspect the answer is that refugees are being exploited for permanent political gain
09/28/2011 12:02 EDT