Valerie Hughes is currently Director of Legal Affairs of WTO Secretariat. She was a senior partner of the firm Gowlings Lafleur Henderson LLP where she practiced mainly in the area of International Law. She is also the President of the Canadian Council on International Law.
Prior to joining Gowlings in 2006, Ms. Hughes was Director of the Appellate Body Secretariat of the World Trade Organization (WTO) in Geneva, Switzerland, from August 2001 to December 2005, where she served as Chief Legal Counsel to the WTO Appellate Body. Her duty was to provide legal and administrative support to the Appellate Body, in accordance with Article 17.7 of the Understanding on Rules and Procedures Governing the Settlement of Disputes (DSU). She also participated in technical cooperation activities carried out by the WTO Secretariat, especially those related to dispute settlement.
Hughes graduated from Ottawa University in 1979. Before working at the WTO, she spent nineteen years with the Government of Canada, during which she held various positions in the public and private international law fields, including Director and General Counsel of the Trade Law Division of the Department of Foreign Affairs and International Trade, Director and General Counsel of the General Legal Services Division of the Department of Finance, and Senior Counsel of the International Law Section of the Department of Justice. She has served as Counsel for Canada before numerous international courts and tribunals. She also served as Chair of the APEC Dispute Mediation Experts Group in 1998-1999.
Ms. Hughes has a number of published works and is a regular guest lecturer at universities and speaker at international trade law conferences. She has spoken at numerous conferences in Canada, the United States, Europe, South America, China, Japan, and Africa on various public and private international law topics, international trade law, and international dispute settlement.