Peter A Allard School of Law

Pitman Potter

Professor (Emeritus)
Fellow of the Royal Society of Canada; Member, Order of Canada
B.A., M.A. JD, Ph.D. (Washington), MDiv. (Vancouver)


Pitman Potter retired from UBC in 2020.  Prior to his retirement, Potter served in various roles at Allard Hall, including as Director of Chinese Legal Studies, Director of Asian Legal Studies, Director of the Graduate Program, and Associate Dean. Potter also served as Director of UBC’s Institute of Asian Research during 1999-2008, where he held the HSBC Chair in Asian Research (1999- 2016). 

Potter’s research extends to many areas of PRC and Taiwan law and policy including human rights, foreign trade and investment, business regulation and dispute settlement. He has published many books, including his most recent work, Exporting Virtue? China’s International Human Rights Activism in the Age of Xi Jinping  (Vancouver: UBC Press, 2021). Potter has also published over one hundred articles and essays. His research has supported significant legal reform and policy advancement. In Canada, Potter’s work has supported integrated approaches to trade and human rights. The impacts of his work also span across Asia — from food-security law and education systems in rural India to housing policies in Shanghai. 

Potter has received multiple awards in recognition of his work. In 2008, he received the UBC Law Faculty Alumni Association Award for Research. He received the UBC Distinguished University Scholar Award and the George Washington University Distinguished Alumni Research Award in 2003. Potter received a UBC Killam Research Award in 1994. Professor Potter is a Fellow of the Royal Society of Canada.

Outside of academia, Professor Potter served as a Chinese business law consultant for Borden Ladner Gervais LLP from 1995 to 2017. He also practiced as a Chartered Arbitrator handling trade and investment disputes involving China. Professor Potter served on the Boards of Directors of several public institutions, including the Asia Pacific Foundation of Canada where he is currently a Distinguished Fellow Emeritus and the Canada-China Business Council. Dr. Potter is a Deacon in the Anglican Church of Canada (Diocese of New Westminster)

Dr. Potter is a Member of the Order of Canada.


  • Chinese Law
  • Trade and Investment in the PRC
  • Perspectives and Methods in Asia Pacific Policy Studies
  • Governance and Human Rights in Asia


  • Pitman B. Potter, “Labour Relations and Trade Policy in China; Opportunities for Coordinated Compliance,” in Daniel Drache and Lesley Jacobs, eds., Grey Zones of International Economic Law and Global Governance (Vancouver: UBC Press, 2018).
  • Pitman B. Potter, “Law and Art in China: Domination and Resistance,” Les Cahiers de Droit, vol. 58 nos. 1-2 (May-June, 2017) pp. 137-161.
  • Pitman B. Potter, “China and the International Human Rights Legal Regime: Orthodoxy, Resistance, and Legitimacy,” in Avery Goldstein and Jacques DeLisle, eds., China’s Global Engagement: Cooperation, Competition, and Influence in the 21st Century (Washington: Brookings, 2017) pp. 291-324.
  • Pitman B. Potter, “Coordinating Human Rights and Trade Policy in China: The Case of Environmental Protection,” in Potter and Ljiljana Biukovic, eds., Local Engagement with International Economic Law and Human Rights (Cheltenham, UK Ÿ Northampton, MA, USA: Edward Elgar Publishing, 2017) pp. 215-235.
  • Pitman B. Potter, “Human Rights and Social Justice in China,” in Daniel Drache and Lesley Jacobs, eds., Linking Global Trade and Human Rights: New Policy Space in Hard Economic Times(New York: Cambridge University Press, 2014).
  • Pitman B. Potter, “International and Domestic Selective Adaptation: The Case of Charter 08,” in John Gillespie and Pip Nicholson, eds., Law and Development and the Global Discourses of Legal Transfers (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2012) pp. 56-81 (refereed, invited).
  • Pitman B. Potter and Sophia Woodman, “Boundaries of Tolerance: Charter 08 and Debates over Political Reform,” in Jean-Philippe Beja, Fu Hualing, and Eva Pils, eds., Liu Xiaobo, Charter 08 and the Challenges of Political Reform in China (Hong Kong: Hong Kong University Press, 2012) pp. 97-117 (refereed, invited).
  • Pitman B. Potter, “Human Rights in China: Contesting Legitimacy,” in Lora Wildenthal and Jean Quataert, eds., Routledge History of Human Rights (London: Routledge, forthcoming 2019). 
  • Pitman B. Potter, “Human Rights and China’s International Trade and Investment Relations,” in Sarah Biddulph and Joshua Rosenzweig, eds., Handbook on Human Rights in China (Cheltenham,: Edward Elgar Publishing, forthcoming 2019).
  • Pitman B. Potter, “Human Rights and Dissent in China: Contesting Legal Cultures,” in Teresa Wright, ed.  Handbook on Dissent and Protest in China (Cheltenham,: Edward Elgar Publishing, forthcoming 2019).

Publications listed on the Allard School of Law Library Faculty Research Publications Database.

potter profile

Organization Affiliations

  • Centre for Asian Legal Studies

Research Interests

  • Asian legal studies
  • Comparative law
  • Human rights
  • International law
  • Law and society

What are the immediate impacts and longer-term implications of China’s international activism in human rights and global governance?

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