As director of international law at CIGI, Oonagh Fitzgerald established and oversees CIGI’s international law research agenda, which includes policy-relevant research on issues of international economic law, environmental law, intellectual property law and innovation, and Indigenous law.

She has extensive experience as a senior executive in the federal government, providing legal policy, advisory and litigation services, and strategic leadership in international law, national security, public law, human rights and governance. 

As national security coordinator for the Department of Justice Canada from 2011 to 2014, Oonagh ensured strategic leadership and integration of the department’s policy, advisory and litigation work related to national security. From 2007 to 2011, she served as the Department of National Defence and Canadian Forces legal adviser, leading a large, full-service corporate counsel team for this globally engaged, combined military and civilian institution. Before this, Oonagh served as acting chief legal counsel for the Public Law Sector of the Department of Justice and special adviser for International Law.

Oonagh served as assistant secretary Legislation, House Planning/Counsel at the Privy Council Office from 2000 to 2003. Prior to this, she held various positions in the Department of Justice: senior general counsel and director general, Human Resources Development Canada Legal Services Unit; general counsel and director, International Law and Activities Section; senior counsel for Regulatory Reform; and legal adviser, Human Rights Law Section. She began her legal career at the Law Reform Commission of Canada, the Competition Bureau and the Immigration Appeal Board.

Oonagh has taught in the faculties of Law and Business Administration at the University of Ottawa, as well as in the Department of Law at Carleton University, l’Institut international du droit de l’homme in Strasbourg, France, and the International Institute of Humanitarian Law in San Remo, Italy.

Oonagh has a B.F.A. (Hons.) from York University (1977). She obtained her LL.B. from Osgoode Hall Law School (1981) and was called to the Bar of Ontario in 1983. She obtained an LL.M. from the University of Ottawa (1990), a doctorate of juridical science (S.J.D.) from the University of Toronto (1994) and an M.B.A. from Queen’s University (2007).


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