Paul B. Stephan

Fast Facts

  • John C. Jeffries, Jr., Distinguished Professor of Law and David H. Ibbeken ’71 Research Professor of Law at the University of Virginia Law School
  • Former special counsel to the General Counsel, U.S. Depart of Defense, and counselor on international law, U.S. Department of State
  • Expertise in foreign relations law, Russian domestic political economy and international relations, international law, comparative law, international business, international civil litigation, international dispute resolution

Areas Of Expertise

  • Foreign Affairs
  • Europe
  • Law and Justice
  • Economic Issues
  • Supreme Court

Paul B. Stephan, John C. Jeffries, Jr., Distinguished Professor of Law and David H. Ibbeken ’71 Research Professor of Law at the University of Virginia Law School, is an expert on foreign relations law, international law, comparative law, international business, international civil litigation, and international dispute resolution, with an emphasis Russian, Soviet, and post-Soviet legal systems. He joined the University of Virginia faculty in 1979. During 2006-07, he served as counselor on international law in the U.S. Department of State, and in 2020-21 as special counsel to the general counsel in the U.S. Department of Defense. He also worked with the U.S. Department of Treasury, the IMF, the World Bank, and the OECD on issues of global tax reform from 1993 to 1998. He was coordinating reporter for the American Law Institute’s Restatement (Fourth) of the Foreign Relations Law of the United States (2018). His latest book is The World Crisis and International Law – The Knowledge Economy and the Battle for the Future.

Stephan earned his BA and MA from Yale University in 1973 and 1974 and his JD from the University of Virginia in 1977. Before returning to Virginia, he clerked for Judge Levin Campbell of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the First Circuit and for U.S. Supreme Court Justice Lewis F. Powell Jr. He has taught as a visiting professor at the Moscow State Institute for International Relations, the University of Vienna, Münster University, Lausanne University, Melbourne University, University of Pantheon-Assas (Paris II), Sciences Po, Paris I, the Interdisciplinary Centre Herzliya, Sydney University, the Peking University School of Transnational Law in Shenzhen, China, and the University of Tartu’s Pärna College. He also has visited at Columbia Law School and Duke Law School and served as a scholar in residence in the London office of the international law firm Wilmer Hale. He has served as an expert witness on matters of international and foreign law in many judicial and arbitral proceedings. In particular he has assisted Ukraine’s national oil and gas company in its international claims against Russia for property seized in Crimea. Both houses of Congress have invited him to testify on foreign relations issues on several occasions, most recently on the use of sanctions against Russia and its supporters in response to the invasion of Ukraine.

Stephan has written many books and published more than 100 articles. He is the co-author, with Robert Scott, of The Limits of Leviathan: Contract Theory and the Enforcement of International Law (Cambridge University Press, 2006), as well as many textbooks concerning the world economy. In summer 2023 he will lead a course at the Hague Academy of International Law on the relationship between international law and domestic law. The Academy will publish these lectures as part of its Recueil des Courses book series.

Paul B. Stephan News Feed

Yevgeny V. Prigozhin, who was head of the mercenary Wagner Group that fought on behalf of Russia in its war with Ukraine, then led an ill-fated rebellion against Russian leader Vladimir Putin in June, is among the dead after a civilian aircraft crash last week. While neither Russia nor Putin claimed they caused the crash, a number of foreign affairs experts say this has the earmarks of a classic Russian reprisal. To learn more, UVA Today talked with Paul B. Stephan, a senior fellow at the University of Virginia’s Miller Center of Public Affairs and the John C. Jeffries Jr. Distinguished Professor of Law at the UVA School of Law.
Paul B. Stephan UVA Today
Yevgeny Prigozhin’s recent apparent mutiny against the Russian military is mostly an effort to salvage his business model, according to a University of Virginia scholar. To learn more about the situation, UVA Today talked with Paul B. Stephan, a senior fellow at the University of Virginia’s Miller Center of Public Affairs.
Paul B. Stephan UVA Today
Many projects of international scope from the 1990s have become targets of populist revolt—including the conversion of the General Agreement on Tariffs and Trade (GATT) into the World Trade Organization (WTO), the European Communities into the European Union, the privatization of foreign investment protection, the human rights revolution, open borders for migrants, and cyberspace itself. Paul Stephan's latest book, The World Crisis and International Law: The Knowledge Economy and the Battle for the Future, calls for new approaches to international law, based not on grand projects to remake the world but on pragmatic and more limited state-led innovations. Margaret Foster Riley, Paul Mahoney, and Paul Stephan discuss what brought the world to such a perilous state, and how pathways to productive international cooperation exist and can be extended.
Paul B. Stephan Miller Center Presents
As Russia’s war on Ukraine lumbers on, calls to confiscate already-frozen Russian state assets grow louder. Shouldn’t the United States and its allies force a down payment on the reparations that Russia undoubtedly will owe Ukraine by the end of this conflict? Many in Europe have taken up this cry, and Canada has enacted the authority to confiscate Russian state assets but has yet to exercise it. If the United States and its allies take this step, they should use a portion of the distribution to satisfy some part of the judgments that victims of Russia’s lawlessness, in cases clearly connected to the invasion of Ukraine, already have obtained in international tribunals and national courts.
Paul B. Stephan Lawfare
As a self-professed liberal internationalist, Paul B. Stephan ’77 once had high hopes for a permanent world peace based on global prosperity, but prospects for that possibility now look dim, the University of Virginia School of Law professor argues in a new book. Stephan, a former adviser to multiple presidents and foreign governments, offers insights about the history and shaky future of the international order in “The World Crisis and International Law: The Knowledge Economy and the Battle for the Future,” published by Cambridge University Press in February.
Paul B. Stephan UVA School of Law
A year of war between Russia and Ukraine has upended expectations. Ukraine surprised many observers by holding back the Russian invasion using weapons and other support from at least 40 countries aligned with the West. The Ukrainian infrastructure has been battered and Russian forces have been humbled, but states in the Global South are increasingly sympathetic to Russia. This week President Vladimir Putin withdrew from Russia’s last remaining arms control treaty with the United States. Three University of Virginia law professors and Miller Center senior fellows who are experts in national security and international law reflected on the war so far and the prospects for peace.
Paul B. Stephan UVA Today