Penelope Simons


Penelope Simons
Associate Professor

PCTHE - Oxford Brookes
Ph.D. - University of Cambridge
LL.M. - University of Cambridge
LL.B. - Dalhousie University
BA - University of British Columbia

Room: 57 Louis Pasteur St. Room 364
Office: 613-562-5800 ext. 3217
Office Fax: 613-562-5124
Work E-mail:


Originally from British Columbia, I attended UBC where I studied French language and literature. After completing an LL.M. and a Ph.D. in International Law at the University of Cambridge in the U.K., I returned to Vancouver where I was called to the British Columbia Bar and practiced corporate law/commercial at McCarthy Tétrault LLP. I subsequently worked in the nongovernmental sector on peace and disarmament issues. It was during this time that I participated in the Canadian Assessment Mission to Sudan (the Harker Mission) which was established and dispatched by Canada's Minister of Foreign Affairs and International Trade to investigate allegations of slavery, as well as, links between oil development in Sudan and grave violations of human rights. Prior to coming to the University of Ottawa in 2007, I was a Senior Lecturer in Law at Oxford Brookes University in the UK.

My research is focused on the human rights implications of business activity and particularly on natural resource extraction, and how best to regulate such activity to protect human rights and prevent and mitigate other harm. My current work is on gender and resource extraction.


The Governance Gap: Extractive Industries, Human Rights, and the Home State Advantage (Routledge, 2014) examines the human rights implications of corporate activity in zones of weak governance and argues for home state regulation.


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Integrating Sustainable Development into International Investment Agreements:
 A Guide for Developing Country Negotiators (Commonwealth Secretariat, 2013), considers the ways in which international investment treaties could be reimagined to address more effectively the sustainable development concerns of party states.


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Service and Activity

  • Founding Member of the Editorial Board of the Business and Human Rights Journal (Cambridge University Press) 2015- present
  • Member of Editorial Board of Edward Elgar Publishing’s Elgar Studies in Human Rights, 2013-present
  • Founding Member of the Board of the Global Business and Human Rights Scholars’ Association, 2017-present
  • Member of the Board of Directors of the Canadian Council of International Law, 2017-present.
  • Interim Director of the Human Rights Research and Education Centre, University of Ottawa, 2013-2014.



  • Human Rights (International Protection)
  • Transnational Corporations, Human Rights and International Economic Law
  • Public International Law
  • Business Organizations
  • Directed Research in support of the Mandate of the UN Special Rapporteur on the Right to Housing


Selected Publications

  • P. Simons & A. Macklin, The Governance Gap: Extractive Industries, Human Rights, and the Home State Advantage (Routledge, 2014).
  • J.A. VanDuzer, P Simons & G Mayeda, Integrating Sustainable Development into International Investment Agreements: A Guide for Developing Country Negotiators (Commonwealth Secretariat, 2013).
  • W. Shan, P. Simons & D. Singh (eds) Redefining Sovereignty in International Economic Law (Hart Publishing, 2008).

Journal Articles

  • P. Simons, “Unsustainable International Law: Transnational Resource Extraction and Violence against Women” (2017) 26:2 Transnational Law & Contemporary Problems 415-434.
  • P. Simons “Canada’s Enhanced CSR Strategy: Human Rights Due Diligence and Access to Justice for Victims of Extraterritorial Corporate Human Rights Abuses” (2015) 56(2) Canadian Business Law Journal 167-207.
  • P. Simons, “International Law’s Invisible Hand and the Future of Corporate Accountability for Violations of Human Rights” (2012) 3(1) Journal of Human Rights and the Environment 5-43.
  • P. Simons & L. Collins, “Participatory Rights in the Ontario Mining Sector: An International Human Rights Perspective” (2010) 6(2) McGill International Journal of Sustainable Development Law & Policy 177-216.
  • R. McCorquodale & P. Simons, “Responsibility Beyond Borders: State Responsibility for Extraterritorial Violations by Corporations of International Human Rights Law” (2007) 70 Modern Law Review 598-625.   

Chapters in Books:

  • P. Simons, “The Value-Added of a Treaty to Regulate Transnational Corporations and Other Business Enterprises: Moving Forward Strategically” in S. Deva and D. Bilchitz (eds) Building a Treaty on Business and Human Rights: Context and Contours (Cambridge University Press, 2017).
  • P. Simons, “Selectivity in Law-Making: Regulating Extraterritorial Environmental Harm and Human Rights Violations by Transnational Extractive Corporations” in A Grear & L Kotze (eds) Research Handbook on Human Rights and the Environment (Edward Elgar Publishing, 2015).
  • J.A. VanDuzer, P. Simons & G. Mayeda, “Modeling International Investment Agreements for Economic Development”, in V Qalo (ed) Bilateralism and Development: Emerging Trade Patterns (Cameron May, London, 2008) 359-410.
  • P. Simons, “Binding the Hand that Feeds Them: Sovereignty, the Agreement on Agriculture, Transnational Corporations, and the Right to Adequate Food in Developing Countries”, in W. Shan, P. Simons, D. Singh (eds) Redefining Sovereignty in International Economic Law (Hart Publishing, Oxford 2008), 399-427.


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