Experts

Jerome A. Cohen

Adjunct Senior Fellow for Asia Studies

Programs

About the Expert

Expert Bio

Jerome A. Cohen is an expert on law in East Asia. He 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. He served as the codirector of NYU’s U.S.-Asia Law Institute and since 1990, has been a professor at the New York University School of Law, where he currently teaches courses on topics including China’s legal tradition and law and society in China.

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, 1949–63People'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 from Yale Law School  (JD, 1955), 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 a 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 an arbitrator and mediator in international business disputes relating to Asia and as an advisor to families of persons detained in China and Taiwan. He is a member of the bars of New York, Connecticut, and the District of Columbia.

Affiliations:

  • New York University School of Law, professor
  • U.S.-Asia Law Institute, New York University, faculty director
  • Paul, Weiss, Rifkind, Wharton & Garrison LLP, of counsel (retired partner)
  • South China Morning Post, commentator
  • China

    Five decades ago, China was closed off to the world. In 1972, Jerome Cohen was part of the first U.S. delegations to travel to China after Richard Nixon’s historic visit. A pioneer in Chinese legal studies in the 1960s, he has been deeply involved in Sino-U.S. political, legal, and business developments in past half-century—from the hopeful early days of China’s reform era in the 1980s to the far darker atmosphere of recent years. In this roundtable, Jerome Cohen, adjunct senior fellow for Asia at the Council on Foreign Relations and faculty director emeritus and founder of NYU Law School’s US-Asia Law Institute, reflects on the trajectory of China and its legal system over the past five decades.
  • China

    Hong Kong is the only peaceful, prosperous city in modern times that has seen freedom so rapidly eradicated. It is also the place where the values of an open society are in conflict with those of a closed, increasingly totalitarian state. Mark L. Clifford was the former director at Next Digital, which was the publisher of the pro-democracy newspaper Apple Daily that was forcibly shut down in 2021, he discusses the destruction of Hong Kong freedoms since the introduction of the national security law.
  • Diplomacy and International Institutions

    The years following the Cold War have not seen a disappearance of illiberal regimes, but they have seen a vast growth in globalization and transnational commercial relations. Thus, U.S. courts are faced far more than before with the need to understand and deal with fundamentally different legal systems—for example, when asked to enforce a judgment from an illiberal system. How are they doing? Speakers Donald Clarke and Mark Jia discuss both the challenges posed by illiberal legal orders and the specific problems faced by U.S. courts dealing with the Chinese legal system.
  • China

    By the end of this month, Xu Zhiyong and Ding Jiaxi, two of China’s most innovative and moderate political reformers and human rights lawyers, will be subjected to a secret trial for alleged subversion of state power after two years of criminal detention. This will result in their imprisonment for many years. Our speakers, Shengchun Sophie Luo, the wife of defendant Ding Jiaxi, and Teng Biao, a previous victim of Beijing’s secret police kidnappings and co-founder of the New Citizens Movement with Xu and Ding, offer an in-depth understanding of what Xi Jinping’s “rule by law” means in practice.
  • China

    What is it like to secretly do business with the highest levels of the Chinese Communist Party elite? How do ideology, politics, ethics, foreign policy, law, and human relations merge in the actual struggle to get rich in the People’s Republic of China as the party enters its second century? Our speaker, Desmond Shum, discusses his eye-opening and controversial experiences as an “insider” who learned how to rise among China’s power-business elite.
  • China

  • Hong Kong

  • Hong Kong

    Dennis Kwok, former liberal politician and leader in efforts to democratize China’s Special Administrative Region (SAR), discusses the many changes being imposed on Hong Kong, expected developments, and how various countries should respond. Sharon Hom, the well-known critic and international activist, provide comments.
  • China

    Panelists discuss China’s increasing repression of Uyghurs in Xinjiang, the response from the United States and other countries, and the implications for U.S.-China relations and China's foreign policy.
  •  

    Please join our panelists for a discussion of China’s national security law and Hong Kong’s autonomy, the delayed legislative elections, and the state of the pro-democracy movement. 
  • Hong Kong

  • China

    Famous Chinese dissident artist Ai Weiwei discusses art, politics, human rights, and China's future.
  • Taiwan

    8:00 - 8:30 a.m. Breakfast8:30 - 9:30 a.m. Meeting

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