Ann E. Mayer

Associate Professor of Legal Studies and Business Ethics


Ann Elizabeth Mayer is an Associate Professor 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 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, Middle Eastern History, University of Michigan, 1978
  • Certificate, Islamic and Comparative Law, School of Oriental and African Studies, University of London, 1977
  • JD, University of Pennsylvania, 1975
  • MA, Near Eastern Languages and Literatures (Arabic and Persian), University of Michigan, 1966
  • BA, Honors German, University of Michigan, 1964
  • “General Remarks on Human Rights and Islam in the Middle East.” Chapter in Beiträge zum Islamischen Recht VII. Islam und Menschenrechte/Islam and Human Rights, Hatem Elliesie, ed., by Peter Lang Publishing, 2010.
  • “Human Rights as a Dimension of CSR: The Blurred Lines Between Legal and Non-Legal Categories, Journal of Business Ethics DOI 10.1007/s10551-009-0315-6 (2009) available at
  • “Reform – or Breakthrough?” in Reformist Women Thinkers in the Islamic World, published in the Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars Middle East Program Occasional Paper Series, Spring 2009.
  • “Revisiting Jefferson’s Wall from a Contemporary Middle Eastern Perspective,” in Religion, State and Society: Jefferson’s Wall of Separation in Comparative Perspective, Robert Fatton, Jr. and R.K. Ramazani, eds., Palgrave, 2009.
  • “The Reformulation of Islamic Thought on Gender Rights and Roles,” in Islam and Human Rights in Practice: Perspectives Across the Ummah, Shahram Akhbarzadeh and Benjamin MacQueen, eds., Routledge, 2008.
  • “The Respective Roles of Human Rights and Islam: An Unresolved Conundrum for Middle Eastern Constitutions,”in Constitutional Politics in the Middle East with special reference to Turkey, Iraq, Iran and Afghanistan, Saïd Amir Arjomand, ed., Hart Publishing, 2008.
  • “The Fatal Flaws in the U.S. Constitutional Project for Iraq,” 61 Journal of International Affairs. Religion & Statecraft 153 (Fall/Winter 2007).
  • “The Islam and Human Rights Nexus: Shifting Dimensions,” 4 Muslim World Journal of Human Rights published by The Berkeley Electronic Press (2007).
  • Islam and Human Rights. Boulder: Westview Press, 4th edition, 2007.
  • Fulbright Fellowship, Morocco, 1992; Tunisia, 1993; Residency at the Bellagio Center of the Rockfeller Foundation in Bellagio, Italy April - May 1998
  • 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

Middle Eastern law; international human rights law; human rights and globalization; women’s international human rights; law and international business; comparative constitutional law

LGST 229 – Women, Law, and Politics in the Middle East and North Africa