Peter A Allard School of Law

Pitman Potter

Professor (Emeritus)
B.A., M.A. JD, Ph.D. (Washington), MDiv. (Vancouver)


Pitman Potter is Professor of Law and Director of Chinese Legal Studies at the Peter A. Allard School of Law, Director of UBC’s Institute of Asian Research. He is an internationally acclaimed scholar of Law in the People’s Republic of China and Taiwan. His research extends to many areas of Chinese law and policy including business regulation, foreign trade and investment, contracts, property law (including intellectual property), dispute resolution, and human rights. He has published many books on PRC law and governance, including Assessing Treaty Performance in China: Trade and Human Rights(Vancouver: UBC Press, 2014)and The Legal System of the People’s Republic of China (Cambridge: Polity Press, 2013).His new book on China’s international human rights activism is forthcoming from UBC Press. Potter has also published over one hundred articles and essays.  

Professor Potter’s research has supported significant legal reform and policy advancement. In Canada, his work has supported integrated approaches to trade and human rights. The impacts of his work also spans across Asia — from food-security law and education systems in rural India to housing policies in Shanghai. 

Pitmanserved as Director of UBC’s Institute of Asian Research 1999-2008, and also held the HSBC Chair in Asian Research (1999- 2016). He has received multiple awards and recognitions for his work. In 2015, Professor Potter was named a Fellow of the Royal Society of Canada. In 2008, he received the UBC Law Faculty Alumni Association Award for Research. He received a Killam Research Award from the University in 1994, as well as the UBC Distinguished University Scholar Award and the George Washington University Distinguished Alumni Research Award in 2003. 

Outside of academia, Professor Potter served as a Chinese business law consultant for Borden Ladner Gervais LLP (formerly Ladner Downs) 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 and the Canada-China Business Council where he is currently Senior Advisor. Dr. Potter is a Deacon in the Anglican Church of Canada (Diocese of New Westminster) (


  • 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
  • Centre for Business Law

Research Interests

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

How can international trade and investment agreements be coordinated with effective enforcements of human rights standards?

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