Thursday, August 13, 2015
Renu Mandhane with alumnus and International Criminal Court deputy prosecutor James Stewart and Dean Ed Iacobucci

Renu Mandhane with alumnus / International Criminal Court deputy prosecutor James Stewart, and Dean Ed Iacobucci

Renu Mandhane, JD 2001, the executive director of the Faculty of Law’s award-winning International Human Rights Program (IHRP), has been nominated by the Ontario government for the role of chief commissioner of the Ontario Human Rights Commission, subject to a final review by the Standing Committee on Government Agencies. She is expected to take up her post in fall 2015. As chief commissioner, Mandhane will play a central role in shaping human rights in the province.

She started at the Faculty in 2008 as an assistant dean and contributed to an extensive review of the first year curriculum. In 2009, after a competitive national search, she was appointed executive director of the IHRP. Under her leadership, the IHRP has won multiple awards for its groundbreaking work to end discrimination in Canada and abroad.

In recent years, she has worked tirelessly to expand the IHRP through grant-funding from the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council (SSHRC), the Elton John AIDS Foundation, and the Department of Foreign Affairs and International Trade. More importantly, Mandhane has solidified a unique clinical legal education model that enables law students to work on high-impact files, while building the capacity of NGOs to effectively engage with international law. This work has been repeatedly profiled in national and international media, and resulted in legal and policy changes in Canada and abroad. 

Mandhane, who also holds an LLM from New York University, will take over the role of chief commissioner from interim chief Ruth Goba. Previously the position had been held by Barbara Hall, who retired from the post in February 2015, after nearly 10 years of service.

In a media release, Premier Kathleen Wynne said: “I want to extend my congratulations to Renu Mandhane on her nomination as Ontario’s new Human Rights Commissioner. As a long-time advocate for human rights with a focus on advancing women’s rights, we are fortunate that someone so passionate and experienced will lead the important work done by the Ontario Human Rights Commission. I am confident Ms. Mandhane’s leadership will play an integral role as the Office of the Chief Commissioner works to promote a culture of human rights in the province and build a fairer and more inclusive Ontario for all.”

Attonery General Madeleine Meilleur called Mandhane a "passionate advocate for freedom of speech and the rights of women."

She added: "Ms. Mandhane will bring invaluable experience to the Office of the Chief Commissioner, and will help solidify Ontario’s leadership on human rights on the global stage. I would also like to extend my sincere appreciation to interim chief Ruth Goba for her stewardship of the commission over the past several months.”

The Ontario Human Rights Commission was established in 1961 to administer the Ontario Human Rights Code. The commission develops public policy on human rights, conducts public inquiries, and promotes a culture of human rights in the province. The commission also has the power to monitor and report on anything related to the state of human rights in Ontario.

The Faculty of Law congratulates Renu Mandhane on this nomination. The law school is committed to ensuring that the IHRP continues to deliver exceptional experiential learning opportunities to our students during this brief transition period.

Read the Ontario government’s press release on the appointment.