David A. Wirth is Professor of Law and Director of International Programs at Boston
College Law School in Newton, Massachusetts, where he teaches primarily in the field of
public international law. He has a particularly strong research interest in international
environmental law, an area in which he has worked and practiced for more than two
decades. In addition to Boston College, he has taught at Harvard, M.I.T., Oxford, the
Fletcher School of Law and Diplomacy, and the University of Virginia. 

Prior to moving to academia, Professor Wirth was Senior Attorney and Co-Director of the
International Program at the Washington, D.C. office of the Natural Resources Defense
Council (NRDC), a nonprofit public interest law firm specializing in environmental
issues. While there, he worked on a variety of international environmental issues,
including environmental reform of World Bank and regional development banks, the
“greenhouse” effect, Soviet and eastern European environmental issues, stratospheric
ozone depletion, and exports of hazardous substances. 

Professor Wirth has also been Attorney-Adviser for Oceans and International Environmental
and Scientific Affairs in the Office of the Legal Adviser of the U.S. Department of State
in Washington, D.C., where he had principal responsibility for all international
environmental issues, including exports of hazardous substances and technologies, acid
rain, and stratospheric ozone depletion. In his positions at the Department of State and
NRDC, Professor Wirth has had extensive experience in multilateral negotiations under the
auspices of the United Nations Environment Program, the Organization for Economic
Cooperation and Development, the UN Economic Commission for Europe, and other
international organizations. 

Professor Wirth is a 1981 graduate of the Yale Law School and served as law clerk to
Judge William H. Timbers of U.S. Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit in New York for
a year thereafter. He holds undergraduate and graduate degrees in chemistry from,
respectively, Princeton University and Harvard University, at which he held a National
Science Foundation Fellowship. During the summer of 1997, he was a Fulbright Scholar
through the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE) Regional Research

A life member of the Council on Foreign Relations, Professor Wirth has served on advisory
boards to a number of institutions of higher learning, domestic agencies, and
international organizations, including Vermont Law School, the Environmental Protection
Agency and the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development. He has been a consultant
to the United Nations Development Program, the United Nations Environment Program, the
North American Commission for Environmental Cooperation, the C.S. Mott Foundation, the
German Marshall Fund of the United States, and the Belgian State Secretary for Energy and
Sustainable Development. 

A prolific writer, Professor Wirth is the author of more than fifty articles and reports
on international environmental law and policy for legal, academic, professional, and
popular audiences. He is co-author of major new editions of legal texts on international
organizations and environmental law. Professor Wirth is currently at work on a scholarly
treatise on the role of science in international trade law. His published work has
appeared in numerous highly respected journals, including the Yale Law Journal, the
Columbia Law Review, the Virginia Law Review, Foreign Policy, and the American Journal of
International Law. 



Geographical Indications, Food Safety, and Sustainability Challenges and Opportunities, 145th EAAE Seminar: Intellectual Property Rights for Geographical Indications: What is at Stake in the TTIP? (2015)

This paper examines the legal and policy relationship reinforcement amongst international standards for GIs, food...



The International and Domestic Law of Climate Change: A Binding International Agreement Without the Senate or Congress?, Harvard Environmental Law Review (2015)

This Article asserts that neither Senate advice and consent nor new congressional legislation are necessarily...



The Environment, Oxford Handbook of International Organizations, Jacob Cogan, Ian Hurd & Ian Johnstone eds. (2015)

This chapter surveys settings under the auspices of international organizations and institutions that address the...



The World Trade Organization Dispute Over Genetically Modified Organisms: The Precautionary Principle Meets International Trade Law, Vermont Law Review (2013)

“Precaution” is increasingly accepted as a basis for governmental policy in the areas of public...



Engineering the Climate: Geoengineering as a Challenge to International Governance, Boston College Environmental Affairs Law Review (2013)

The challenge of global climate change has attracted recommendations for remediation from a number of...




Environmental Law and Policy: Nature, Law and Society (with Zygmunt J.B. Plater, Robert H. Abrams, Robert L. Graham, Lisa Heinzerling, and Noah D. Hall), Zygmunt J.B. Plater (2010)

This user-friendly book - noted for its comprehensive legal process approach to the depth and...



Environmental Law and Policy: Nature, Law, and Society (with Zygmunt J. B. Plater) (2010)


Environmental Law and Policy: Nature, Law, and Society (with Zygmunt J. B. Plater) (2004)

Contributions to Books


International Trade Law: CLI Background Paper No. 10, Recalibrating the Laws of Humans with the Law of nature: Climate Change, Human Rights, and Intergenerational Justice (2009)


Make Trade Rules Attuned to the Ecological Needs and Interests of Future Generations: CLI Recommendation No. 15, Recalibrating the Laws of Humans with the Law of Nature: Climate Change, Human Rights, and Intergenerational Justice (2009)

This recommendation observes that international trade agreements as currently structured do not establish minimum standards...



Un regard extérieur: Back Impact of European Union Legislation on American Environmental Regulations, Les échanges entre les droits, l'expérience communautaire: Une lecture des phénomènes de régionalisation et de mondialisation du droit (2008)


Hazardous Substances and Activities, Oxford Handbook of International Environmental Law (2007)

This piece analyzes and critically evaluates the enormous number and variety of international instruments addressing...



The Transatlantic GMO Dispute Against the European Communities: Some Preliminary Thoughts, EU and WTO Law: How Tight is the Legal Straitjacket for Environmental Product Regulation? (2006)

Any day now, a World Trade Organization panel is expected to rule in a dispute...


Selected Professional Activities

Moderator, Pope Francis’s Encyclical: An Ethical Summons to Tackle Climate Change, Our Common Home: An Ethical Summons to Tackle Climate Change, Boston College (2015)
Panelist, New Year’s Renaissance Weekend, Renaissance Weekends (2014)

Professor Wirth served as a panelist on panels regarding Crimea, global warming, ISIL, and food...

International Administrative Law -- WTO and Implications for Rulemaking, Administrative Law Conference, ABA Administrative Law and Regulatory Practice Section (2014)