Ann E. Mayer

Ann E. Mayer
  • Associate Professor Emeritus of Legal Studies and Business Ethics

Contact Information

  • office Address:

    Wharton School
    3730 Walnut Street
    6th Floor
    University of Pennsylvania
    Philadelphia, PA 19104-6340

Research Interests: comparative constitutional law, human rights and globalization, international human rights law, law in the contemporary middle east, women’s international human rights

Links: CV


Ann Elizabeth Mayer is an Associate Professor Emeritus of Legal Studies in the Department of Legal Studies and Business Ethics at the Wharton School of the University of Pennsylvania.  She has also taught as a visitor at Yale University Law School (1997); at Georgetown University (1992); and at Princeton University (1983). She has taught law courses on subjects including law and policy in international business, globalization and human rights, comparative law, Islamic law in contemporary Middle Eastern legal systems, and introductions to U.S. law.

She earned a Ph.D. in Middle Eastern History from the University of Michigan in 1978; a Certificate in Islamic and Comparative Law from the School of Oriental and African Studies of the University of London in 1977; a J.D. from the Law School of the University of Pennsylvania in 1975; an M.A. in Near Eastern Languages and Literatures (Arabic and Persian) from the University of Michigan in 1966; and a B.A. in Honors German from the University of Michigan in 1964.

She has written extensively on issues of Islamic law in contemporary legal systems, comparative law, international law, and the problems of integrating international human rights law in domestic legal systems. A major portion of her scholarship concerns human rights issues in contemporary North Africa and the Middle East. She has published widely in law reviews and in scholarly journals and books concerned with comparative and international law and politics in contemporary Middle East and North Africa.  Her book Islam and Human Rights. Tradition and Politics (Boulder: Westview, 2007) is now in its fourth edition.

Her interest in international human rights law encompasses the emergence of new ideas of corporate responsibility under international human rights law and the problems that come with transferring what were formerly state obligations to private actors.

A member of the Pennsylvania Bar, she consults widely on cases involving human rights issues and Middle Eastern law.


PhD, University of Michigan, 1978; Certificate, School of Oriental and African Studies, University of London, 1977; JD, University of Pennsylvania, 1975; MA, University of Michigan, 1966; BA, University of Michigan, 1964

Recent Consulting

Human rights situation in post-liberation Kuwait, Lawyers Committee for Human Rights, 1991-92; Human rights issues in the Middle East and North Africa, U.S. Department of State, 1991-92; Human rights and Middle Eastern politics, CIA, 1996-97
Career and Recent Professional Awards; Teaching Awards
Fulbright Fellowship, Morocco, 1992; Tunisia, 1993; Residency at the Bellagio Center of the Rockfeller Foundation in Bellagio, Italy April – May 1998
Academic Positions Held
Wharton: 1977-present. Visiting appointments: Princeton University; Georgetown University; Yale University, University of Vienna

Other Positions

Summer Law Clerk, Goodman and Ewing, 1975; Summer Law Clerk, Ballard, Spahr, Andrews and Ingersoll, 1974
Professional Leadership
Member of the Council of the Institute for the Transregional Study of the Contemporary Middle East, North Africa, and Central Asia of Princeton University, 2009-present
Member of the Advisory Board of the Georgetown University Advancing Human Rights Series, 2002-present
Member of the Editorial Board of the Harvard Series in Islamic Law, 2000-present
Continue Reading


  • Ann E. Mayer (Work In Progress), The Human Rights of Middle Eastern Women: A Regional Perspective.

  • Ann E. Mayer (2009), Human Rights as a Dimension of CSR: The Blurred Lines Between Legal and Non-Legal Categories, Journal of Business Ethics, Volume 88, Supplement 4.

    Abstract: At the UN, important projects laying down transnational corporations’ (TNCs) human rights responsibilities have been launched without ever clarifying the relevant theoretical foundations. One of the consequences is that the human rights principles in projects like the 2000 UN Global Compact and the 2003 Norms on the Responsibilities of Transnational Corporations and Other Business Enterprises with Regard to Human Rights can be understood in different ways, which should not cause surprise given that their authors come from diverse backgrounds, including economics and public policy. An examination of these projects and the views of their authors reveals that, although they are superficially linked to international human rights law, they go well beyond it and attempt to deal with corporate social responsibility issues in ways that elude neat classification as fitting neatly in either legal or non-legal categories. Too little attention has been paid to how in the course of developing these projects the legal and ethical dimensions have become entwined and how lines have gotten blurred. Meanwhile, there has been recognition that these UN projects have emerged simply as ad hoc responses to practical concerns about the sustainability of globalization. The lack of any foundational theory or normative framework should be addressed; it is time to bring together specialists from different fields concerned with the human rights responsibilities of corporations to see if it is possible to define a coherent overarching theory for these UN projects.

  • Ann E. Mayer (2007), The Fatal Flaws in the U.S. Constitutional Project for Iraq, Journal of International Affairs. Religion & Statecraft, (Fall/Winter 2007).

  • Ann E. Mayer (Work In Progress), Women’s Lives in the Muslim Middle East: The “True Lies” of Cultural Stereotyping.

  • Ann E. Mayer (2006), Clashing Human Rights Priorities: How the United States and Muslim Countries Selectively Use Provisions of International Human Rights Law, Chennai Journal of Intercultural Philosophy.

  • Ann E. Mayer (Work In Progress), Not Taking Rights Seriously: Hallmarks of the Frivolous Human Rights “Critique”.

  • Ann E. Mayer (Work In Progress), •Protecting Women’s Rights: The Relative Values of Women’s International Human Rights and Collective Paradigms.


Latest Research

Ann E. Mayer (Work In Progress), The Human Rights of Middle Eastern Women: A Regional Perspective.
All Research

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