The Gordon Henderson Chair in Human Rights was created in 1991 in honor of Gordon Henderson, QC CC. The endowment that supports the Chair’s work was established to strengthen the Centre’s ability to fulfill its mandate and further enhance its capacity to act as a leader in the field of human rights.

Gordon Henderson Chair 2021-2024

Penelope Simons is an Associate Professor and Vice Dean Research at the Faculty of Law (Common Law Section), and the Gordon F. Henderson Chair in Human Rights at the Human Rights Research and Education Centre. Prior to taking up her position at the University of Ottawa, Penelope was a Senior Lecturer in Law at Oxford Brookes University, Oxford, UK.  She was called to the British Columbia Bar in 1996 and practiced corporate/commercial law with McCarthy Tétrault LLP.  She also worked in the nongovernmental sector on peace and disarmament issues.

A global leader in the field of business and human rights, Penelope’s research has focused on understanding and examining the international and domestic legal structures and power dynamics that protect and facilitate business activity. She has published widely on issues including the human rights implications of domestic and transnational extractive sector activity, state responsibility for corporate complicity in human rights violations, the regulation of transnational corporations, gender and resource extraction, as well as the intersections between transnational corporate activity, human rights and international economic law. She is the co-author with Audrey Macklin of The Governance Gap: Extractive Industries, Human Rights, and the Home State Advantage (Routledge 2014 ) and with Tony VanDuzer and Graham Mayeda of Integrating Sustainable Development into International Investment Agreements: A Guide for Developing Countries (Commonwealth Secretariat, 2013).

Penelope is a member of the HRREC, the Interdisciplinary Research Group on the Territories of Extractivism (GRITE) and the Center for Environmental Law and Global Sustainability at the University of Ottawa, as well as the SSHRC-funded Canadian Partnership on Strengthening Justice for International Crimes. In 2018, Penelope was awarded the Walter S. Tarnoplosky Award, recognizing her as “an individual who has made a significant contribution to human rights.”

Penelope Simons