Jerome A. Cohen

Adjunct Senior Fellow for Asia Studies


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


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


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.


Mandarin Chinese (Fluent)

All Publications


China's Legal Blindness

Author: Jerome A. Cohen
Wall Street Journal

Jerome A. Cohen says the cause of Chen Guangchen, imprisoned because of his efforts to defend women against forced sterilization by the Chinese government, could become a monumental struggle for freedom and justice in China.

See more in China; Rule of Law


Wrong Side of the Law

Author: Jerome A. Cohen
South China Morning Post

Jerome A. Cohen states, "The Chinese government's current suppression of rising internet protests against its barbaric abuse of the blind 'barefoot lawyer' Chen Guangcheng raises fundamental questions about the impact of legal reforms on real life in China."

See more in Rule of Law; China; Internet Policy


Seeking Shelter

Authors: Jerome A. Cohen and Yu Han
South China Morning Post

Jerome A. Cohen and Yu Han discuss the recent release of the draft comprehensive revision of China's Criminal Procedure Law (CPL).

See more in China; Rule of Law


In Safe Hands?

Author: Jerome A. Cohen
South China Morning Post

Jerome A. Cohen says the Chinese government's assurances for due process in its prosecution of Lai Changxing, the mastermind behind a smuggling and bribery scandal, are far from being 'strict, clear, and unequivocal.'

See more in China; Rule of Law


No Place Like Home

Author: Jerome A. Cohen
South China Morning Post

Jerome A. Cohen says that in Ai Weiwei's continued detention, Chinese police are violating at will a provision of the law that allows them to hold a suspect only under strict conditions.

See more in China; Rule of Law


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

This meeting is on the record.

Read ListenWatch

Roundtable Meeting

Implementing Article 23 of the Basic law in Hong Kong

This meeting is not for attribution.




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.