Jerome A. Cohen

Adjunct Senior Fellow for Asia Studies


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


Asia Program

All Publications


Ties that Blind

Author: Jerome A. Cohen
South China Morning Post

Jerome A. Cohen writes that "recent arrests may simply reflect massive corruption by the DPP, which dominated executive government for the past eight years."

See more in China; Human Rights


Torture Under Scrutiny

Author: Jerome A. Cohen
South China Morning Post

Jerome Cohen writes that "China's record on torture not only violates its international obligations, but also undermines its own criminal justice goals."

See more in China


Loosening Beijing's Invisible Hand

Author: Jerome A. Cohen
South China Morning Post

Jerome Cohen writes that the mainland of China is far more open to foreigners today than it was 36 years ago. Yet the Olympics' spotlight confirmed that the country still has dark corners that the Communist Party wants to keep that way.

See more in China


China's Jailed Champions

Author: Jerome A. Cohen
South China Morning Post

This August, as the media trumpets the triumphs of the Olympic athletes, the world should also recognise a group of more significant Chinese heroes—the human rights activists whose persecution, prosecution and punishment have become the shame of the motherland, writes Jerome Cohen

See more in China; Human Rights

Must Read

Law in Political Transitions: Lessons from East Asia and the Road Ahead for China

Author: Jerome A. Cohen

China's legal system is developing, but meaningful reform of its authoritarian political system has not yet taken place. What role are law and legal institutions likely to play in China's political reform process? This hearing assessed the state of China's rule of law development and examined the role of legal institutions in political transitions in Taiwan and South Korea to see whether these experiences suggest a path ahead for China.

See more in International Law; China; Democratization

Current Projects

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.

Past Projects

Asia Roundtable: Focal Points for the Future

Staff: Jerome A. Cohen, Adjunct Senior Fellow for Asia Studies
February 1, 1997—June 1, 1998

Asia is an increasingly important center of world power and relations between the United States and Asia have undergone great change. The Focal Points for the Future Roundtable Series examined the implications of these changes within sociopolitical, economic, and security frameworks.

CFR Events

General Meeting ⁄ New York

NY Videoconference: Taiwan's Future


Annette Hsiu-lien Lu, Vice President, Taiwan


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.



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)