Areas of Study



The Law School offers an unsurpassed array of courses, seminars, and colloquia in international, comparative, and foreign law. In fact, there are more than 60 courses typically taught in these areas each year, and International Law is now a first-year elective. Students develop cross-cutting expertise between areas that were traditionally studied separately, such as trade and environmental law, intellectual property and human rights, and global antitrust and international labor law.

"NYU is the premier place to study international law in the world," says Professor José Alvarez. "With specialized expertise and courses in the history and theory of public international law, global governance, and an expanding range of human rights offerings, including various opportunities for hands-on clinics and internships in these fields, our faculty and curriculum are unsurpassed when it comes to 'public' international law subjects. Our center on arbitration and deep coverage of trade, investment, and finance demonstrate NYU's equivalent strengths in international economic law. Perhaps less well known, however, is NYU's unrivaled capacity for interdisciplinary work within and among all such topics. Our international and comparative law faculty include experts on economics, sociology, anthropology, and history, for example—as is appropriate for a world where legal issues are never neatly demarcated as such."

The study of international law at NYU is integrally linked to the Hauser Global Law School Program, which reflects and responds to the interconnections and influences of laws and legal systems of various nations among one another. The Hauser program brings the Law School into partnership with leading law schools in Brazil, Argentina, Chile, South Africa, Singapore, China, and Europe, and, with the Institute for International Law and Justice, has an active series of conferences on globalization and public regulatory issues with partners in Delhi, Cape Town, Buenos Aires, São Paulo, Beijing, and elsewhere. The Hauser program also brings leading faculty from around the world to visit and teach at NYU, supplementing our already rich curriculum with further regional, global and comparative perspectives and topics. 

Faculty at NYU study and teach international law from a wide range of perspectives:

Global Trade and Regulation

Professors Richard Stewart and Benedict Kingsbury initiated and direct the Institute for International Law and Justice’s Global Administrative Law Research Project—a revolutionary approach to responsibility and participation in global governance that involves scholars worldwide. Kingsbury also works on the issues of indigenous peoples, and directs the Program in the History and Theory of International Law as well as the Institute for International Law and Justice. Stewart is doing groundbreaking work on climate change and on GMOs. Together with Professor Kevin Davis, Stewart and Kingsbury launched a project in 2009 on Climate Change Financing for Development, focused on governance, design, and tax issues in global carbon markets.

Gráinne de Búrca, a leading expert on European Union law, focuses on a wide range of topics related to EU and international law and policy, including doctrine, institutional design, and broad questions about the integration of the EU legal order with the international legal system. She teaches courses on international law, EU law, European human rights law, and a clinic on International Organizations. She is faculty director of the Hauser Global Law Program and co-director of the Jean Monnet Center for International and Regional Economic Law & Justice. 

Professor José E. Alvarez, who joined the NYU Law faculty after a decade at Columbia Law School, engages with regulatory issues in his cutting-edge course on international organizations, which addresses the impact that institutions (including international tribunals) have had in fields such as trade, international labor law, international civil aviation, and international health law. In addition, his seminar on law and policy of international investment addresses how bilateral and regional investment treaties, and the arbitral caselaw produced under them, regulate states.

Professor Kevin Davis, who teaches courses on international finance and law and development, considers the regulatory impact of international financial institutions, particularly through their use of indices to promote "rule of law" reforms. Indeed, he has led a project to consider the impact of such indices along with Professors Kingsbury and Sally Merry.

University Professor Joseph Weiler, a leading expert on EU, international law and international economic law, is currently on leave to lead the European University Institute in Florence. Professor Robert Howse, a leading WTO expert, joined the Law School’s faculty in 2008, and teaches International Trade Law, International Investment Law and Arbitration, and International Financial Architecture.

International Human Rights

International human rights are the focus of several professors’ teaching, research, and activism. Professor Philip Alston is the current UN Special Rapporteur on Extreme Poverty and Human Rights, a former UN Special Rapporteur on Extrajudicial, Summary or Arbitrary Executions, and co-chair of the Law School’s Center for Human Rights and Global Justice (CHRGJ). He teaches the International Criminal Law Seminar, International Human Rights Law, and Economic and Social Rights. Professor Ryan Goodman is also co-chair of the CHRGJ, and is Anne and Joel Ehrenkranz Professor of Law. Prior to moving to NYU, Goodman was the inaugural Rita E. Hauser Professor of Human Rights and Humanitarian Law and director of the Human Rights Program at Harvard Law School. The CHRGJ's faculty co-directors, Professors Smita Narula and Margaret Satterthwaite '99, lead the International Human Rights Clinic and conduct cutting-edge research in this area.

Gráinne de Búrca teaches and writes in the area of European human rights.

In general, human rights issues are addressed throughout the international curriculum, including in courses devoted to international criminal law and tribunals, transitional justice, transnational civil litigation, and even economic subjects such as international investment.

International Organizations, Global Governance, and Security

The legal impact of inter-state organizations, such as those of the UN system and other forums for "global governance" (such as public/private partnerships), are considered in courses devoted to international organizations or the UN (by distinguished global visitors and Professor Alvarez), courses on global governance and international environmental law (as by Professors Stewart and Kingsbury), courses on finance or law and development (by Professor Kevin Davis), and courses on the European Union (by Professors Eleanor Fox and Gráinne de Búrca). Students wishing more direct contact with some of these organizations may opt for the clinic on international organizations (led by Professors de Búrca and Angelina Fisher). That clinic addresses specific problems being considered by a number of international organizations and matches students with officials from those organizations working on such problems.

A number of the courses involving global governance or international organizations address the problem of "human security"—including the risks posed by terrorism, pandemics, and climate change—whether involving action by the UN, the International Civil Aviation Organization, the EU, or the World Health Organization. NYU has also been a leader in promoting an entirely new field of study, global administrative law (GAL), which considers the impact of all forms of global regulation, whether formally legally binding or not. The GAL project has generated a significant reform agenda involving collaborations with scholars from around the world, and is intended to make global regulatory efforts more accountable.

National security issues, particularly under US law, are addressed by a number of faculty members who teach and write in this area, including Professors Samuel Rascoff, Richard Pildes, Samuel Issacharoff, Stephen Schulhofer, and Burt Neuborne. Professor Rascoff, an Arabic-speaking Middle East expert who has worked at high levels of the US government, is the director of the Center on Law and Security. That center is the focal point for such issues, and regularly brings to NYU academic experts and leading practitioners in this cutting-edge field. The Institute for International Law and Justice integrates the Law School’s scholarly excellence in international law into the policy activities of the UN, non-governmental organizations, law firms, and industry, organizing collective research projects with academic and policy institutions internationally, policy work, and academic and practical training initiatives conducted by faculty examining international law questions.

Private and Transactional International Law

NYU School of Law provides a rich academic environment for the study of private and transactional international law. Course offerings include Conflict of Laws, International Litigation and Arbitration, and International Commercial Arbitration. Faculty practicing in the area include Professor Andreas Lowenfeld, a preeminent expert in the field of public and private international law; Professor Linda Silberman, one of the leading scholars and practitioners in the fields of civil procedure, conflict of laws, family law (domestic and international), international litigation, and international arbitration; Professor Clayton Gillette, an expert in the international law of commercial sales and the United Nations Convention on Contracts for the Sale of International Goods; and Professor Rochelle Dreyfuss, director of the Engelberg Center on Innovation Law and Policy and a leader and innovator in the field of international intellectual property.

Professor Kevin Davis directs the Institute for International Law and Justice’s project on financing development, in which real commercial law development financing transactions are studied alongside public law and governance techniques. This work is integrated with Professor Frank Upham's law and development focus on East Asia, pioneering work in international tax policy for development by Professors Mitchell Kane and Lily Batchelder (on leave), and work on financial flows for climate change mitigation by Professors Richard Stewart and Richard Revesz. Professor Franco Ferrari is the director for Center for Transnational Litigation and Commercial Law. He is also a chaired professor of international law at Verona University School of Law. After serving as a member of the Italian Delegation to various sessions of the United Nations Commission on International Trade Law (UNCITRAL) from 1995 to 2000, he served as a legal officer at the United Nations Office of Legal Affairs, International Trade Law Branch (2000-2002). Other Hauser Global Law School faculty work closely with students on arbitration moot courts and student scholarship. Leading arbitration practitioners teaching regularly at the Law School include Donald Donovan, who has argued recent cases before the International Court of Justice and the US Supreme Court. NYU's depth in commercial arbitration is matched by faculty expertise in investor-state arbitration, arising out of the nearly 3,000 investment protection agreements found throughout the world. Faculty who are teaching or writing in that expanding practice area include Professors Alvarez, Howse, Lowenfeld, and Kingsbury.

Other faculty members whose scholarship and practice often intertwine with the fields of private and transactional international law include Professor Harry First, director of the Law School’s Competition, Innovation, and Information Law Program; Professor Eleanor Fox '61, an expert in the field of international antitrust; and Professor Geoffrey Miller, director of the Center for Financial Institutions.

More on the International Law program from the NYU Law Magazine