Verdier to Join Virginia's International Law Faculty

May 27, 2009

Pierre-Hugues Verdier, a scholar of international law, global governance and financial regulation, will join the Law School this fall.

Pierre-Hugues Verdier

Verdier, who this year served as a visiting assistant professor at Boston University School of Law, will teach international law and banking regulation at Virginia.

"Most of my research focuses on the realities and prospects of effective international governance on matters of finance and economic relations between countries," Verdier said. "There is an abiding and very significant tension inherent in attempts to create effective international governance — that is, between national autonomy and effective international norms."

"Pierre's scholarship challenges the core ideas of some of the most prominent scholars in the field of international law," said Law School professor Barry Cushman, who chaired the entry-level faculty appointments committee. "His work displays a remarkable level of scholarly rigor, an impressive command of a variety of highly technical legal subjects of great significance, and a sure-footed mastery of both the big picture and the complex nuances of factual and institutional detail."

In his most recent scholarship, Verdier questioned the widespread endorsement — by scholars as prominent as Anne-Marie Slaughter — of international regulatory networks as being key to effective global governance.

Slaughter argued that informal regulatory networks could help govern in many areas of international law, from environmental issues to human rights.

Verdier's paper was recently published in the Yale Journal of International Law. "It argues that there are very significant limitations on the effectiveness of that kind of governance and these limitations are caused by a number of factors, including administrative accountability mechanisms, pressures that arise from domestic politics and formal limits on the role that domestic regulators can play on the international stage," Verdier said.

"Also, the informal nature of these organizations means they usually won't have the authority or resources to monitor compliance with the rules they set forward or to discipline noncompliance."

Verdier said the recent global financial crisis suggests that current regulatory networks are not enough.

"My own impression is that these events will confirm the skepticism that I and others have expressed about international networks like the Basel Committee on Banking Supervision and their capacity to make and enforce rules that effectively control the risk of financial crises internationally," he said

Verdier, who grew up in a town north of Montreal, speaks French and English. He has clerked for the Supreme Court of Canada, worked at a New York law firm on corporate matters and public and private international law issues and served as a researcher for the Committee on Capital Markets Regulation.

He holds an LL.M. from Harvard, a diploma in public international law from the Hague Academy of International Law and law degrees from McGill University. He expects to receive his S.J.D. from Harvard next year.

"I knew from day one that I wanted to teach," said Verdier. "I thought it would be useful, given the areas I am interested in, to have real-life experience and some direct hands-on knowledge of how things operate in practice."

Verdier is now turning his scholarship toward proposing an alternative system to the idea of international regulatory networks.

"The emphasis will be on mutual recognition by different states of each others' regulatory regimes, as contrasted with attempts to harmonize substantive rules, and it would also be based on regional cooperation, or cooperation between states that have similar levels of regulation or similar economic systems, rather than universal networks or institutions."

Verdier said he is looking forward to joining the Law School's faculty.

"I was very impressed with the breadth of the faculty's interests and just how many of them were working on issues that speak to the kind of work I do myself, " he said. "It just seemed like an ideal environment for my research."

Verdier is "is a thoughtful, careful, theoretically sophisticated and deeply informed young scholar, " Cushman added. "We're delighted that he will be joining the faculty."

Founded in 1819, the University of Virginia School of Law is the second-oldest continuously operating law school in the nation. Consistently ranked among the top law schools, Virginia is a world-renowned training ground for distinguished lawyers and public servants, instilling in them a commitment to leadership, integrity and community service.

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