Penelope Simons
Penelope Simons
Gordon Henderson Chair in Human Rights (2021-2024), HRREC
Full Professor, Faculty of Law, Common Law Section, University of Ottawa

Fauteux Hall, FTX553 (57 Louis Pasteur Private)


Current Research Interests

  • Corporate responsibility
  • Human rights violations

B.A. (UBC), LL.M. (Cantab.), Ph.D. (Cantab.) LL.B. (Dalhousie), of the Bar of British Columbia

Penelope Simons is an Associate Professor and Vice Dean Research at the Faculty of Law (Common Law Section), and the Gordon F. Henderson Chair in Human Rights at the Human Rights Research and Education Centre. Prior to taking up her position at the University of Ottawa, Penelope was a Senior Lecturer in Law at Oxford Brookes University, Oxford, UK.  She was called to the British Columbia Bar in 1996 and practiced corporate/commercial law with McCarthy Tétrault LLP.  She also worked in the nongovernmental sector on peace and disarmament issues.

A global leader in the field of business and human rights, Penelope’s research has focused on understanding and examining the international and domestic legal structures and power dynamics that protect and facilitate business activity. She has published widely on issues including the human rights implications of domestic and transnational extractive sector activity, state responsibility for corporate complicity in human rights violations, the regulation of transnational corporations, gender and resource extraction, as well as the intersections between transnational corporate activity, human rights and international economic law. She is the co-author with Audrey Macklin of The Governance Gap: Extractive Industries, Human Rights, and the Home State Advantage (Routledge 2014 ) and with Tony VanDuzer and Graham Mayeda of Integrating Sustainable Development into International Investment Agreements: A Guide for Developing Countries (Commonwealth Secretariat, 2013).

Penelope was co-counsel for Amnesty International Canada in the Choc v Hudbay and Garcia v Tahoe cases, and for Amnesty International Canada and the International Commission of Jurists in the groundbreaking Nevsun v Araya case, as well as for the Canadian Civil Liberties Association in the Director of Criminal and Penal Prosecutions and Attorney General of Quebec v 9147-0732 Quebec Inc.

She is a member of the editorial board of the Business and Human Rights Journal, and Edward Elgar Publishing’s Elgar Studies in Human Rights. She is also the Vice President and a member of the board of the Global Business and Human Rights Scholars’ Association, and member of the board of the Canadian Council on International Law and of the Canadian Journal on Women and the Law.

Penelope is a member of the Human Rights Research and Education Centre, the Interdisciplinary Research Group on the Territories of Extractivism (GRITE) and the Center for Environmental Law and Global Sustainability at the University of Ottawa, as well as the SSHRC-funded Canadian Partnership on Strengthening Justice for International Crimes. In 2018, Penelope was awarded the Walter S. Tarnoplosky Award, recognizing her as “an individual who has made a significant contribution to human rights.”

She teaches business and human rights, public international law, international human rights law, and business organizations.