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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

Asia Program

Bio

Mr. Cohen has been an adjunct senior fellow for Asia studies at the Council on Foreign Relations (CFR) since 1995. Mr. 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.

Mr. 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 Mr. 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. Mr. Cohen formerly served as adviser 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.

Mr. 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 School of Law at Berkeley 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 adviser to families of persons detained in China, including Taiwan. He is a member of the bar in New York, Connecticut, and the District of Columbia.

Languages:

Mandarin Chinese (Fluent)

All Publications

Op-Ed

How Taiwan’s Constitutional Court Reined in Police Power: Lessons for the People’s Republic of China

Authors: Jerome A. Cohen and Margaret K. Lewis
Fordham International Law Journal

For over six decades, police in Taiwan could lock up people they deemed "hooligans" (liumang) for years with at most a cursory review by the courts. This article by Margaret K. Lewis and Jerome A. Cohen discusses the detailed process by which judges, officials, and legislators—spurred by civic groups, lawyers and academics—brought about annulment of the relevant legislation, the Act for Eliminating Liumang.

See more in Taiwan; Rule of Law

Ask CFR Experts

Will Tibet ever achieve full statehood?

Asked by Brian Luckett, from Morgan State University

There is little prospect Tibet will achieve full statehood in the foreseeable future. Apart from preservation of its own power, China's Communist Party's highest imperative is the territorial integrity of the country. It is determined to keep Tibet a part of China and thus far the world community has acquiesced in China's claim.

Read full answer

See more in Tibet; Diplomacy and Statecraft

Op-Ed

Empty Promises

Author: Jerome A. Cohen
South China Morning Post

"Criminal justice has been the weakest link of China's legal system, which, despite constitutional and legislative protections of the right to defence, has in practice rarely allowed defendants adequate opportunity to question prosecution witnesses and rebut their claims," writes Jerome A. Cohen, with respect to Bo Xilai's trial.

See more in China; Rule of Law

Article

Holding Sway

Author: Jerome A. Cohen
South China Morning Post

Jerome A. Cohen says the Communist Party's sustained efforts since June 4 to influence China's courts for its own ends may be easing, but judicial independence is still a long way off.

See more in China; International Law

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

General Meeting ⁄ New York

NY Videoconference: Taiwan's Future

Speaker:

Annette Hsiu-lien Lu, Vice President, Taiwan

Presider:

Jerome A. Cohen, Professor, 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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