Maria L. Banda is practicing international law in Washington, D.C., where she is focusing on international arbitration, international litigation, and public international law. She is a graduate of Trinity College at the University of Toronto (Hon. BA, International Relations, Economics, and History), Harvard Law School (J.D.), and Oxford University (M.Phil.; D.Phil., International Relations), where she studied as a Rhodes Scholar and a Trudeau Scholar. Maria wrote her doctoral dissertation on the politics and the law of the “Responsibility to Protect” (R2P). She has long been interested in the interconnections between security, sustainable development, and human rights, and how Canada’s leadership – through policy innovation, coalition-building, and international law – could be used to promote domestic and global welfare and address the key issues of our time, such as climate change. While at Oxford, she founded and spearheaded a research group on climate change policies in the G8/G20 countries. She has also worked with several international organizations, including the UN Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights, the International Labour Organization, and the World Trade Organization in Geneva, Switzerland. While in law school, she also worked with the team of the Special Representative of the UN Secretary-General on Business and Human Rights at the Harvard Kennedy School. After completing her J.D., she clerked for Justice Ian Binnie and Justice Michael Moldaver at the Supreme Court of Canada. She has written on R2P, Canada-U.S. relations, Canadian foreign policy, climate change, environmental law and policy, and global governance. She is an Advisor to the Canadian Center for the Responsibility to Protect (CCR2P) and a member of the IUCN World Commission on Environmental Law.
Experience as a Trudeau scholar
When I think of my Trudeau experience, two things come to mind: innovative ideas and inspiring people. Every Trudeau community event was basically an ideas exchange that brought together Scholars, Fellows, and Mentors with Canada’s leading public intellectuals, civil servants, entrepreneurs, and activists to share, debate, learn, and brainstorm solutions to some of the most pressing public policy issues facing the nation. One conference challenged us to imagine a more sustainable urban space in Canada; another encouraged us to think boldly about Canada’s place in the world. By opening our minds to new issues—and new and different ways of thinking about them—the Trudeau community steered us away from our “ivory towers” and encouraged us to put ideas into action. Another unique aspect of the Scholarship is the Mentorship Program, which in my case gave me the fortune of meeting Prof. Edward Broadbent, who provided invaluable advice and guidance during my D.Phil. Finally, the generosity of the Scholarship helped me conduct research in Canada, the United States, and Europe and attend the Foundation’s events across the country. I am grateful to my fellow Scholars, the Trudeau community, and the Foundation’s team for an inspiring experience, a world of ideas, and lasting friendships.