Tyler Giannini appointed as Clinical Professor of Law

Professor Tyler Giannini

Professor Tyler Giannini

Tyler Giannini has been appointed as a clinical professor of law at Harvard Law School. He was formerly a lecturer on law at HLS.

Giannini – who teaches in the fields of business and human rights, Alien Tort Statute (ATS) litigation, as well as the link between human rights and the environment – is also clinical director of the Human Rights Program. He is a specialist on Burma, Southeast Asia, and South Africa. He joined HLS as a clinical advocacy fellow in the HRP in 2004, was appointed as a lecturer on law in 2006, and became director of the International Human Rights Clinic (IHRC) in 2007.

“Tyler Giannini is a creative thinker and pioneer in the development of theories of liability in the field of human rights,” said Harvard Law School Dean Martha Minow. “His work has guided IHRC and our clinical students in ground-breaking and influential work in human rights advocacy. Already a key member of our community, I am delighted that Tyler joins our permanent faculty.”

Said Giannini: “It is an honor and privilege to be able to work at HLS with such talented colleagues on human rights clinical education. I feel most fortunate to be able to collaborate with outstanding students on projects and to see their commitment to advancing the rights of the affected communities.”

Giannini’s theories of tort liability have played a significant role in holding corporations responsible for the human rights ramifications of their enterprise activities. For the past 15 years, he has been a leading ATS litigator. As one of the architects of the Doe v. Unocal litigation, he helped develop the concept of corporate ATS litigation, one of the most important vehicles for modern international human rights law reform. This precedent-setting ATS litigation concerning the Yadana gas pipeline in Burma resulted in a confidential settlement that is reported to be one of the largest ever in an ATS case.

Through IHRC, Giannini continues his ATS work, where he is currently co-counsel in In re South African Apartheid Litigation, a major ATS case that seeks to hold multinationals liable for their support of human rights violations committed by the apartheid state.  He is also co-counsel in Mamani v. Sanchez de Lozada, which brings claims against the former Bolivian president and defense minister related to a 2003 civilian massacre.

Teaming with Clinical Instructor Susan Farbstein ’04, Giannini has also served as co-counsel and supervised the writing of numerous amicus curiae briefs, including two that were submitted to the U.S. Supreme Court in the past year.

Giannini also teaches and practices law at the intersection of human rights and the environment. Prior to joining HLS, he co-founded and co-directed EarthRights International (ERI) for a decade in Chiang Mai, Thailand. ERI is a non-profit NGO at the forefront of innovative efforts to link human rights and environmental protection.  Giannini has continued his work in the area at IHRC, undertaking work related to dams, mining, and climate change. He has written or co-written many articles and reports in the area, including most recently “Confronting a Rising Tide: A Proposal for a Convention on Climate Change Refugees,” co-authored with Bonnie Docherty ’01, a clinical instructor and lecturer on law at the Human Rights Program, published last year in the Harvard Environmental Law Review.

Giannini’s work has also focused on Burma and South Africa.  He wrote a report with clinical students last year on human rights abuses in Burma that was influential in persuading a senior U.N. representative to recommend the establishment of a special commission to investigate war crimes and crimes against humanity in the country. He has traveled to South Africa more than a dozen times with clinical students, and last year, he co-authored a book, “Prosecuting Apartheid-Era Crimes? A South African Dialogue on Justice” (Harvard University Press, 2009) with Farbstein.

Giannini has led clinical students on numerous fact-finding, case-development, and advocacy missions to Bolivia, Canada, Cambodia, Papua New Guinea, Thailand/Burma, South Africa, and South Korea.

Giannini is a 1992 cum laude graduate of the College of William and Mary, where he majored in history and government with an emphasis on international relations. He holds a Master of Arts in foreign affairs and a law degree from University of Virginia, where he graduated in 1995 and served on the editorial board of the Virginia Law Review.