Faculty of Law, University of Ottawa
Areas of Expertise
Corporate Social Responsibility, Human Rights, Human Security, International Affairs, International Criminal Court, International Financial and Trade Organizations, International Human Rights Law, International Justice, International Law, International Organizations
Region of Focus
East Asia and the Pacific, Europe, Latin America and the Caribbean, North America
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 constitutional and international human rights law, corporate law, global governance, public international law (including humanitarian and international criminal law) and international business and trade law. Professor Mendes completed his term as Director of the Human Rights Research and Education Centre on June 30, 2001, and returned to full-time teaching in the Common Law section. He had been Director of the Centre since 1993. The Centre is the oldest University-based bilingual human rights research and education institution in Canada. As Director of the Centre, he was the Project leader for human rights, governance and justice projects in China, Thailand, Indonesia, Brazil, Peru, El Salvador, Sri Lanka and India.
Professor Mendes is a frequent speaker and media commentator and writer on democracy, politics, government ethics, constitutional conventions and law, human rights, international law and business across Canada and the world. He has appeared, either as a commentator or columnist, on all of Canada’s major national newspapers and on all the major Canadian television news channels. He is also a frequent media commentator in the Canadian and international media in the areas of his expertise. He has lectured on the above 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 the largest Canadian and foreign corporations in the area of human rights, governance, ethics and compliance with their human rights obligations in their international operations. He also challenged them when they failed in their accepted human rights obligations and insisted on remediation where they were proved to be complicit in human rights abuses. Professor Mendes has also been an advisor to governments, civil society and the global private sector on business and human rights. He worked with the Canadian government civil society and leadership private sector companies 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 and help draft the human rights principles.
Professor Mendes has taught, researched, consulted and published extensively in the area of Global Governance, International Business Law and Ethics, Constitutional Law and International Human Rights Law.
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. In 2013, he was a Visiting Fellow at Harvard Law School and gave lectures both at the Law School and the Harvard University Weatherhead Centre for International Affairs. 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. In September of 2009, he was appointed a Commissioner of the Ontario Human Rights Commission and was reappointed in September of 2012. In that capacity, he has helped develop several of the Commission’s new approaches to combating systemic discrimination in Ontario, including the landmark Competing Rights Policy and the presumption of discrimination regarding the use of “Canadian Experience” in employment requirements. Professor Mendes is also co-founder of the New Canada Movement that will develop mentorships for youth in our diverse multicultural communities and promote social justice and equality in Canadian society. Professor Mendes is also an experienced international arbitrator and a member of the Canadian Panel of Arbitrators under the auspices of the International Chamber of Commerce’s Court of Arbitration.
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, was a Visiting Professional at the International Criminal Court in The Hague, attached to the Office of the Prosecutor. He was active in 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” was published in the fall of 2009, in Canada, Europe and North America by Edward Elgar Publishers Inc. He is working on a second edition.
Professor Mendes was elected the President of the International Commission of Jurists, Canadian Section in 2014. In that capacity he has led a national group of lawyers and judges that produced an influential report on the judicial appointment process in Canada, developed new legal strategies to combat modern slavery in global supply chains of Canadian companies and held a high level think tank on how Canada can promote the rule of law in fragile states. In his capacity as an expert on the integration of human rights and the rule of law into international business and investment relations, as part of an International Commission of Jurists expert team he advised the Myanmar government on how to ensure these areas are integrated into their legal, trade and foreign investment relations with the rest of the world as the country opens up their economy to the rest of the world.
He has been the founding and present Editor-in-Chief of Canada’s leading constitutional law journal, “The National Journal of Constitutional Law” which is now in its 25th year of publication. It has influenced many decisions of the courts, including the Supreme Court of Canada. He is the author or co-editor of eleven books, including the landmark constitutional law text, co-edited with Senator G. Beaudoin, The Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms, 3rd and 4th and 5th Editions, Carswell, 1996, 2005 and 2014 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. His most recent book published in February 2014 is titled “Global Governance, Human Rights and International Law. Combating the Tragic Flaw” also published by Routledge, New York and London. The book offers a unique perspective on how to deal with some of the most challenging issues facing the world in areas as diverse as failures of global institutions to prevent mass atrocities, global economic crises and involvement of transnational corporations in gross human rights abuses and environmental degradation. Professor Mendes led 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.)
Recent ACUNS Activity
Book Talk Podcast “Combating the Tragic Flaw in Global Governance” on his publication Global Governance, Human Rights and International Law (May, 2014)