Petersen, Carole J.

Professor, School of Law
Graduate Chair, Spark M. Matsunaga Institute for Peace
Saunders, 523: 956-6940
Department: 956-5570
Fax: 956-9121

BA 1981, University of Chicago
JD 1984, Harvard Law School
Postgrad. Dip. Law of the PRC 1994, University of Hong Kong

Carole Petersen came to the University of Hawaii in 2006, initially as a Visiting Professor of Law. Carole previously taught at the City University of Hong Kong (1989-1991) and the University of Hong Kong (1991-2006). She is a former Director of the Centre for Comparative and Public Law (CCPL) at the University of Hong Kong and currently sits on its external advisory board. Her research has focused on Hong Kong constitutional law, human rights, discrimination, trafficking, and the rights of women and persons with disabilities. In the 1990s she assisted legislators in drafting the first legislation to prohibit discrimination in Hong Kong. More recently, she has worked with the ILO on programs to assist the Chinese government in implementing ILO Convention 111 (equality in employment) and with the Norwegian Centre for Human Rights on training programs for law professors in Western China. Carole’s current research focuses on the impact of human rights treaties on China’s domestic laws and policies, particularly the UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities.

Carole’s main teaching is in International Law and International Protection of Human Rights. She has also taught Hong Kong Constitutional and Administrative Law, Torts, and Contracts.


  • Balancing National Security and the Rule of Law: Article 23 of the Basic Law (Hong Kong Watch 2018), (available at:
  • Prohibiting the Hong Kong National Party: Has Hong Kong Violated the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights? 48 Hong Kong Law Journal 789-805 (2018).
  • Academic Freedom and Critical Speech in Hong Kong: China’s Response to Occupy Central and the Future of ‘One Country, Two Systems,’ 42 North Carolina Journal of International Law 665-727 (2017) (co-authored with Alvin Y. H. Cheung).
  • “International Law and the Rights of Gay Men in Former British Colonies: Comparing Hong Kong & Singapore,” 46 Hong Kong Law Journal 109-129 (2016).
  • “Eradication of Child Sex Trafficking: the International Perspective,” in Katherine Lynch and Anne Scully-Hill (eds.), International Perspectives on Disputes About Children and Child Protection, Volume II, pp. 103-33 (Chinese University of Hong Kong Press, 2015).
  • “Sex Work, Migration, and the United States Trafficking In Persons Report: Promoting Rights or Missing Opportunities for Advocacy?” 25 Indiana International & Comparative Law Review 115-157 (2015) (reporting study of sex workers in Hong Kong).
  • “Equal Opportunities Law Reform in Hong Kong: The Impact of International Norms and Civil Society Advocacy,” in Michael Tilbury, Simon N.M. Young, and Ludwig Ng (eds.), Reforming Law Reform: Perspectives on Law Reform Processes in Hong Kong and Beyond (HKU Press, 2014) (co-authored with Kelley Loper).
  • “Sexual Orientation and Gender Identity in Hong Kong: A Case for the Strategic Use of Human Rights Treaties and the International Reporting Process,” 14(2) Asian-Pacific Law & Policy Journal 28-83 (2013).
  • “Preserving Traditions or Breaking the Mold? A Comparative Study of the Impact of Transnational Human Rights Processes in the People’s Republic of China and the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region,” in Kyriaki Topidi and Lauren Fielder, eds., Transnational Legal Processes and Human Rights (Ashgate Publishing Ltd. 2013).
  • “Bridging the Gap? The Role of Regional and National Human Rights Institutions in the Asia Pacific,” 13(1) Asian-Pacific Law & Policy Journal 174-209 (2011).
  • “International Norms and Domestic Law Reform: The Difficult Birth of Hong Kong’s Racial Discrimination Law,” 6(2) Directions 13-21 (Canadian Race Relations Foundation 2011).
  • Population Policy and Eugenic Theory: Implications of China’s Ratification of the United Nations Convention on the Rights of Persons With Disabilities, 8 China: An International Journal 85-109 (2010).
  • Inclusive Education and Conflict Resolution: Building a Model to Implement Article 24 of the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities in the Asia Pacific, forthcoming in 40(2) Hong Kong Law Journal (2010).
  • Stuck on Formalities? A Critique of Hong Kong’s Legal Framework for Gender Equality, in Fanny M. Cheung and Eleanor Holroyd, eds., Mainstreaming Gender in Hong Kong Society (Hong Kong: Chinese University Press 2009).
  • China’s Ratification of the Convention on the Rights of Persons With Disabilities: the Implications for Hong Kong, 38 Hong Kong Law Journal 611-644 (2008).
  • Higher Education Restructuring and Academic Freedom in Hong Kong, 6(1) The Journal of Comparative Asian Development 143-63 (2007) and 6(5) Policy Futures in Education 589-88 (2008) (with Jan Currie).
  • Trafficking of Mainland Chinese Women Into Hong Kong’s Sex Industry: Problems of Identification and Response, 2 Asia-Pacific Journal on Human Rights and the Law 35-84 (2007) (with Robyn Emerton and Karen Joe Laidler).
  • Embracing Universal Standards? The Role of International Human Rights Treaties in Hong Kong’s Constitutional Jurisprudence, in Fu Hualing, Lison Harris, and Simon N. M. Young, eds., Interpreting Hong Kong’s Basic Law: The Struggle for Coherence (New York: Palgrave Macmillan, 2007).
  • Bureaucratic Justice: The Incarceration of Mainland Chinese Women Working in Hong Kong’s Sex Industry, 51 (1) International Journal of Offender Therapy and Comparative Criminology 52-67 (2007) (with Karen Joe Laidler and Robyn Emerton).
  • Academic Freedom in Hong Kong (Lexington Books 2006) (with Jan Currie and Ka-Ho Mok).
  • Human Rights in Asia: A Comparative Legal Study of Twelve Asian Jurisdictions, France, and the United States (Routledge 2006) (co-editor, with Randall Peerenboom and Albert H. Y. Chen, and author of ch. 16).
  • Filipino Nightclub Hostesses in Hong Kong: An Analysis of Vulnerability to Trafficking and Human Rights Violations, in Kevin Hewison and Ken Young, eds., Transnational Migration and Work in Asia (Routledge 2006) 126-43) (with Robyn Emerton).
  • National Security and Fundamental Freedoms: Hong Kong’s Article 23 Under Scrutiny (Hong Kong University Press 2005) (co-editor with Fu Hualing and Simon Young and author of Introduction and ch. 1).
  • A Progressive Law with Weak Enforcement? An Empirical Study of Hong Kong’s Disability Law, 25(4) Disability Studies Quarterly (Fall 2005).
  • Negotiating Respect: Sexual Harassment and the Law in Hong Kong, 7 International Journal of Discrimination and the Law 127-168 (2005).
  • Racial Equality and the Law: Creating an Effective Statute and Enforcement Model for Hong Kong, 34 Hong Kong Law Journal 459-80 (2004).
  • Enforcing Equal Opportunities: Investigation and Conciliation of Discrimination Complaints in Hong Kong (CCPL 2003) (with Janice Fong and Gabrielle Rush).
  • Engendering a Legal System: The Unique Challenge of Postcolonial Hong Kong, chapter in Eliza Lee, ed., Gender and Change in Hong Kong: Globalization, Postcolonialism, and Chinese Patriarchy (University of British Columbia Press 2003) 23-48.
  • The Paris Principles and Human Rights Institutions: Is Hong Kong Slipping Further Away from the Mark? 33 Hong Kong Law Journal 513-22 (2003).
  • The International Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination Against Women: A Comparison of Its Implementation and the Role of Non-Governmental Organizations in the United Kingdom and Hong Kong, 26 Hastings International and Comparative Law Review 1-50 (2002) (with Harriet Samuels).
  • The Right to Equality in the Public Sector: An Assessment of Post-Colonial Hong Kong, 32 Hong Kong Law Journal 103-34 (2002).
  • Investigation and Conciliation of Employment Discrimination Claims in the Context of Hong Kong, 5 Employee Rights and Employment Policy Journal 627-69 (2001).