Contrasts Across the Strait: International Human Rights Norms in Taiwan and China



Margaret Lewis, Seton Hall Law School

Date and Time

October 4, 2013 12:00 PM - 1:30 PM



Open to the public.

RSVP required by 5PM October 03.


Philippines Conference Room


In less than three decades, Taiwan has transformed from a repressive, authoritarian state into a vibrant democracy. Changes to the legal system, and particularly the criminal justice system, have played a central role in this story. Reform-minded politicians, lawyers, judges, prosecutors, and scholars have been crucial advocates for strengthening human rights protections, as has Taiwan’s Constitutional Court. Since the end of martial law, the Court has vigorously given heft to rights enshrined in the Republic of China’s constitution. Now that Taiwan has adopted the contents of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights as domestic law, it is an opportune moment to reflect on Taiwan’s journey towards embracing international human rights norms and to confront remaining challenges. The situation across the strait is markedly different. Today, Taiwan’s Constitutional Court has no counterpart on the Mainland and analogues to Taiwan’s former police-controlled punishments remain in full effect. As calls for reform on the Mainland become increasingly vocal, how might Taiwan’s experience inform efforts to increase human rights protections in the People’s Republic of China? 

Speaker Bio:

Maggie Lewis joined Seton Hall Law School as an Associate Professor in 2009. She is a Term Member of the Council on Foreign Relations, a Public Intellectuals Program Fellow with the National Committee on U.S.-China Relations, and an Affiliated Scholar of NYU School of Law’s U.S.-Asia Law Institute. Her recent publications have appeared in the Columbia Journal of Transnational Law, NYU Journal of International Law and Politics, Columbia Journal of Asian Law, and Virginia Journal of International Law. She is also the co-author of the book Challenge to China: How Taiwan Abolished Its Version of Re-Education Through Labor with Jerome A. Cohen. 

Most recently before joining Seton Hall, Professor Lewis served as a Senior Research Fellow at NYU School of Law’s U.S.-Asia Law Institute where she worked on criminal justice reforms in China. Following graduation from law school, she worked as an associate at the law firm of Cleary, Gottlieb, Steen & Hamilton in New York City. She then served as a law clerk for the Honorable M. Margaret McKeown of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit in San Diego. After clerking, she returned to NYU School of Law and was awarded a Furman Fellowship.

Professor Lewis received her J.D., magna cum laude, from NYU School of Law, where she was inducted into the Order of the Coif and was a member of Law Review. She received her B.A., summa cum laude, from Columbia University. In addition, she has studied at the Hopkins-Nanjing Center for Chinese and American Studies in Nanjing, China, and Bucerius Law School in Hamburg, Germany. 

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