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Jerome A. Cohen

Adjunct Senior Fellow for Asia Studies

Expertise

Legal and business transactions in Asia; international relations of East Asia; international law.

Programs

Winston Lord Roundtable on Asia, the Rule of Law, and U.S. Foreign Policy

Bio

Jerome A. Cohen has been an adjunct senior fellow for Asia studies at the Council on Foreign Relations since 1995. Cohen has special expertise in business and public law relating to Asia, especially China. Since 1990, he has been a professor at the New York University School of Law, where he currently teaches courses on Chinese criminal justice and Chinese business law and frequently teaches International Law—East and West.

Cohen formerly served as Jeremiah J. Smith professor, director of East Asian legal studies, and associate dean at Harvard Law School. He has published several books, including The Criminal Process in the People's Republic of China, 1949–63, People's China and International Law, and Contract Laws of the People's Republic of China, and many articles on Chinese law as well as a general book, China Today, coauthored with his wife, Joan Lebold Cohen. In 1990, he published Investment Law and Practice in Vietnam.

The Cohens lived in Beijing during 1979–81, while Cohen took part in various trade and investment contract negotiations as consultant to the Coudert Brothers law firm and taught a course on international business law in the Chinese language for Beijing officials. Cohen formerly served as advisor to the government of Sichuan Province, China; as chairman of the American Arbitration Association's China Conciliation Committee and to the New York/Beijing Friendship (Sister City) Committee; as trustee to both the China Institute in America and the Asia Society; and as a member of the board of editors of both the China Quarterly and the American Journal of International Law. He continues to serve on the advisory board of Human Rights Watch--Asia and is a trustee of the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace.

Cohen is a Phi Beta Kappa graduate of Yale College (BA, 1951) and graduated in 1955 from Yale Law School, where he was editor in chief of the Yale Law Journal. He was law secretary to both U.S. Supreme Court Chief Justice Earl Warren (1955 Term) and to Justice Felix Frankfurter (1956 Term). He subsequently practiced law, served as an assistant U.S. attorney for the District of Columbia and was consultant to the U.S. Senate Committee on Foreign Relations before beginning an academic career at the University of California, Berkeley, School of Law in 1959. He moved to Harvard Law School in 1964 and remained a full-time faculty member there until he joined the international law firm of Paul, Weiss, Rifkind, Wharton & Garrison in 1981. He retired from commercial law practice in 2000 but continues to serve as arbitrator and mediator in international business disputes relating to Asia and as advisor to families of persons detained in China, including Taiwan. He is a member of the bars of New York, Connecticut, and the District of Columbia.

Languages:

Mandarin Chinese (Fluent)

All Publications

Op-Ed

The Wisdom of The Hague’s South China Sea Decision

Author: Jerome A. Cohen
Wall Street Journal

Jerome A. Cohen discusses the verdict in the Philippines’ case against China in the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea.

In this op-ed, Cohen writes about the importance of the decision both in drawing greater attention to the role of arbitration in international relations and in ruling that none of the Spratlys are entitled to an exclusive economic zone. 

See more in Asia and Pacific; Politics and Strategy

Article

Forecasting the Aftermath of a Ruling on China’s Nine-Dash Line

Author: Jerome A. Cohen
ForeignPolicy.com

Jerome A. Cohen writes about the impact of the ruling of the arbitration tribunal in the Philippines’ case against China. In this article, Cohen explores potential responses from different Asian nations to the tribunal’s ruling and what China’s reaction might be if the legal basis of the “Nine-Dash Line” is invalidated.

 

See more in Asia and Pacific; Regional Security; Courts and Tribunals

Op-Ed

Can Taiwan Show Beijing and the World How Disputed Islands Should Be Used for Peace?

Author: Jerome A. Cohen
South China Morning Post

In this op-ed, published following the visit of outgoing Taiwanese president Ma Ying-jeou to Taiping Island in the South China Sea, Cohen outlines how peaceful initiatives could be developed on the island to help address tensions in the South China Sea and other parts of East Asia.

See more in Taiwan; China; Diplomacy and Statecraft; Regional Security

Op-Ed

The Insecurity Underpinning Xi Jinping’s Repression

Author: Jerome A. Cohen
Washington Post

This week’s visit to Seattle,the District and New York by Xi Jinping, widely viewed as China’s strongest dictator since Mao Zedong, will give Americans another occasion to take his measure and ponder the many dilemmas of Sino-American relations. Xi arrives fresh from Beijing’s extraordinary Sept. 3 military parade marking the 70th anniversary of the end of World War II .

See more in China; Presidents and Chiefs of State

Article

Mutual Respect for International Laws Can Keep the Peace Between China and the U.S.

Author: Jerome A. Cohen
U.S.-Asia Law Institute

Although China’s increasingly “assertive” international conduct has naturally stirred widespread concern in both Asia and the US, especially regarding the South China Sea, an overview of Beijing’s foreign policy suggests a less alarming perspective. In some major subjects, such as environmental pollution and climate change, there are good prospects for Beijing’s cooperation with the United States and other nations.

See more in United States; China; Diplomacy and Statecraft

Testimony

China's Future–and Our Own

Author: Jerome A. Cohen

In his testimony before the House Foreign Affairs Subcommittee on Asia and the Pacific, Jerome A. Cohen argues that China would benefit at home and abroad by demonstrating increasing respect rule of law, while the United States, by striving harder to set a good example, could do much to improve not only its own society but also its standing in China and the world.

See more in China; Defense Strategy; Economics

Op-Ed

Will China Close Its Doors?

Authors: Jerome A. Cohen and Ira Belkin
The New York Times

In this op-ed, coauthored with Ira Belkin, Cohen argues that a draft law targeting foreign institutions — including universities, museums, athletic and cultural groups, professional associations and all nonprofit social organizations established outside of mainland China — makes clear that Beijing has become much less welcoming.

See more in China; Nonstate Actors and Nongovernmental Organizations; Politics and Strategy

Op-Ed

Did the Game Just Change in the South China Sea? (And What Should the U.S. Do About It?)

Author: Jerome A. Cohen
China File

As the 14th annual Asia Security Summit—or the Shangri-la Dialogue, as it has come to be known—gets underway in Singapore, we asked contributors to comment on what appears to be a recent escalation in tensions between the U.S. and China over the two countries’ presence in the South China Sea.

See more in Asia and Pacific; United States; Conflict Assessment

Events

Winston Lord Roundtable on Asia, the Rule of Law, and U.S. Foreign Policy

Director: Jerome A. Cohen, Adjunct Senior Fellow for Asia Studies
November 1, 1996—Present

The Roundtable on Asia, the Rule of Law, and U.S. Foreign Policy examines the many meanings of the "rule of law" and the role of law and legal culture in the economic growth, institution-building, and protection of human rights in Asian countries. Participants from the government, NGO's, and academia join to discuss the relevance of the rule of law to U.S. foreign policy and what measures the public and private sectors might adopt to foster desired developments.

CFR Events

Meeting ⁄ New York

NY Videoconference: Taiwan's Future

Speaker Annette Hsiu-lien LuVice President, Taiwan
Presider Jerome A. CohenProfessor, New York University School of Law; Adjunct Senior Fellow for Asia Studies, Council on Foreign Relations
January 17, 2007 8:00–9:30 a.m.

This meeting is on the record.

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Press/Panels

Panel

Overseas Press Club of America Panel on China's Crackdown

On May 18, the OPC hosted a panel discussion to consider how far Chines President Xi Jinping will go in taking steps against not only corrupt members of the Communist Party, but also against all elements of a civil society. Panel members also discussed the implications for U.S.-China relations.

Watch