About David A. Wirth
David A. Wirth is Professor of Law at Boston College Law School in Newton, Massachusetts, where he has served as Director of International Programs. Professor Wirth 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 Program.
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 theYale Law Journal, the Columbia Law Review, the Virginia Law Review, Foreign Policy, and the American Journal of International Law.
David A. Wirth
Boston College Law School
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Cracking the American Climate Negotiators’ Hidden Code: United States Law and the Paris Agreement Climate Law (2016)
The United States’ position in, and conduct of, the negotiations leading to the Paris Agreement, as with almost all international diplomacy leading to reciprocal international undertakings conducted by that country, reflected not only internal politics, ...
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 safety standards, and other claims of quality or safety. The paper addresses those relationships within the context of international trade ...
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 conditions precedent to the United States' becoming a party to a binding agreement to be adopted at the 21st Conference ...
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 health and environment on both the domestic and international levels. A precautionary perspective counsels action to avert danger or threats ...
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 professions, including engineering. The possibilities suggested for “geoengineering” the climate generally fall into one of two categories: (1) carbon capture ...
A World of Choices New Zealand Journal of Public and International Law (2013)
In this keynote address, David Wirth identifies fundamental and dynamic attributes of globalisation, examines the need to confront institutional failures and systemic challenges of multilateral governance, and offers some preliminary observations on directions in which ...
The International Organization for Standardization: Private Voluntary Standards as Swords and Shields Boston College Environmental Affairs Law Review (2009)
Private voluntary standards such as the International Organization for Standardization’s (ISO’s) 14000 series have played an increasingly important role in encouraging corporations to adopt more sustainable business models on their own initiative and not in ...
Globalization and the Environment: Why all the Fuss? International Environmental Law Committee Newsletter (2007)
The relationship between globalization and environmental policies presents more nuances than the popular paradigm of free trader versus self-serving protectionists, the familiar model of environmentalist battling greedy polluters, or the outmoded view of a progressive ...
The EU's New Impact on American Environmental Regulation Fletcher Forum of World Affairs (2007)
Due to its increasing size and growing regulatory momentum, the European Union is quickly becoming an alternative power center to the United States in the field of environmental policy. Within the past several years, there ...
The President, the Environment, and Foreign Policy: The Globalization of Environmental Politics Journal of Land, Resources, & Environmental Law (2005)
By comparison with domestic environmental issues, international environmental diplomacy is distinguished by the far greater role of the Executive Branch, and in particular the President, in making law. This essay explores the legal consequences of ...