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Faculty Focus

Widening the Circle of the Global Community

Environmental and administrative law expert Richard Stewart shares his vision for his new job as head of global law at NYU.

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Why is it that when dealing with some of the most important global issues of the day, the very countries that would benefit most from an international conversation are often left out? Developing-country interests are often marginalized in global institutions such as the World Trade Organization, World Bank and International Monetary Fund. All too often, legal thinking about global governance and global regulatory issues reflects only the perspectives of the United States and Europe.

Richard StewartRichard Stewart, University Professor and John Edward Sexton Professor of Law who became the director of the Hauser Global Law School Program on June 1, hopes to bridge the divide between the developed and developing nations by reaching out to universities in Africa, Asia and Latin America. By bringing academics and lawyers from these often- excluded nations to NYU, and sending students and faculty there, he aims to turn out students who can think about global issues by broadening their experience.

As a founder of the fledgling discipline of global administrative law, Stewart devotes much of his work to grappling with issues of accountability in global governance. “Legal education and legal research, like legal problems, are global now,” says Stewart, who is also an environmental law expert. “Our goal is to engage our students in an educational program that allows them to address these issues not just from the perspective of New York, but from that of Capetown, Santiago or Beijing.”

Stewart credits his predecessors, Norman Dorsen, the Frederick I. and Grace A. Stokes Professor of Law, and Joseph Weiler, the Joseph Straus Professor of Law, with creating a terrific base. “Professor Weiler strengthened the academic orientation of not just Hauser but our LL.M. program and our Ph.D. program,” Stewart says. “The idea of partnerships is his. So I’m really very much building on what he did.” Stewart intends to build teaching and research partnerships with the Catholic University in Santiago, Chile, the National University of Singapore (where Weiler has already built ties) and the University of Capetown. He also hopes to forge new cooperative arrangements with law schools in China and India. While his focus will be on developing countries, he plans to strengthen an existing relationship with Oxford University.

Faculty from partner institutions would continue to teach at NYU, as they have since the inception of the Hauser Program in 1995. But under Stewart’s plan, NYU faculty and students would teach and study abroad either physically or via virtual classrooms. There would also be joint research projects, conferences, publications and continuing legal-education programs on global issues affecting developing regions. “We want to reach out to the developing regions,” says Stewart. “We now have global faculty and scholars coming here. The next step is to link up with students and faculty there, to be able to learn more from their perspective.”

Stewart, by all accounts, possesses the qualifications to steer a preeminent global legal program. He is the rare academic who has moved in and out of the Ivory Tower. After graduating from Harvard Law School, he won a Rhodes Scholarship to do his master’s at Oxford University, followed by a clerkship with Justice Stewart Potter. In the late 1960s, he practiced law at Covington & Burling, and in 1973 was appointed special counsel to the Senate Select Committee on Presidential Campaign Activities that was investigating Watergate. He left a professorship at Harvard Law School when he was appointed assistant attorney general for environment and natural resources in the U.S. Department of Justice during the George H.W. Bush administration. There he developed a market-based emissions trading system to limit greenhouse gases, which was later adopted by the 1997 Kyoto Protocol.

Stewart joined NYU in 1992, and in the late 1990s headed two environmental legal-assistance projects in China for the Center on Environmental and Land Use Law. He and Benedict Kingsbury, the Murry and Ida Becker Professor of Law, are credited with defining the field of global administrative law at a joint NYU-Oxford workshop convened in October 2004, “Towards a Global Administrative Law? Legality, Accountability, and Participation in Global Governance.” That workshop was followed by a similar conference in the spring of 2005, and yearly conferences in Viterbo, Italy.

“He created a new field that has enormous political and legal importance for the world,” says Carlos Rosenkrantz, a professor of law at the University of Buenos Aires, who taught in the Hauser Program in the spring. After a conference held in Buenos Aires last March, Stewart trekked with Rosenkrantz and others through the delta near the city. “He’s very sensitive to different landscapes, cultures and traditions, which is essential for someone who wants to lead a project that’s global in nature,” he says. “And he’s genetically engineered for the job,” says Rosenkrantz wryly, explaining that Stewart alone among their group was not bitten by mosquitoes.

Dorsen, founding director of Hauser, has said that whoever leads the program needs a high profile to attract top foreign faculty. “He knows many foreign law professors on several continents, and foreign faculty like to work with him,” says Dorsen of Stewart. “Anyone at that level will attract great people.”