Book on Taiwan and human rights, co-edited by William Alford, wins American Society of International Law award

Taiwan and International Human Rights: A Story of Transformation,” edited by Harvard Law School Professor William P. Alford ’77; Jerome A. Cohen, professor at New York University School of Law; and Chang-fa Lo LL.M. ’87 S.J.D. ’89, former dean of the  National Taiwan University Law School, was recognized by the American Society of International Law, also known as ASIL. In March at its annual meeting, ASIL awarded the book the 2021 Certificate of Merit in a Specialized Area of International Law.

The book’s collected essays from a wide range of contributors tell the story of Taiwan’s transformation from an authoritarian regime to a constitutional democracy. They point to what they report are the high standards of Taiwan’s human rights protections even as Taiwan is barred from joining international human rights conventions.

According to the ASIL citation, the collection “addresses a fascinating, challenging and understudied story in international human rights law — how Taiwan, whose very status as a party to human rights treaties remains contested, engages with and internalizes human rights and domestic laws and practices.”

The volume also represents a collaboration between three generations of HLS affiliates, as Alford points out. Cohen, an expert in Chinese law who was formerly a professor at HLS, created the East Asian Legal Studies program at the school more than 50 years ago and was Alford’s teacher. Alford, an expert in Chinese law and legal history, who heads EALS, now holds the Jerome A. and Joan L. Cohen Professorship of East Asian Legal Studies at the school. And Lo, who is now ambassador from Taiwan to the World Trade Organization and had been grand justice on Taiwan’s highest court, studied with Alford at HLS.

Watch a discussion of the book featuring Alford, Cohen and Lo, hosted by the HLS library.