Detailed biographical information related to article on James Rowles in The Columnist, August 15, 2023

Detailed biographical information related to article on James Rowles in The Columnist, August 15, 2023

Jim Rowles (“James” to his international friends and in foreign languages) has been pursuing
lifelong passionate interests in international law and human rights since his undergraduate and
law school days. Since 2009, reacting to news articles on torture and motivated by his
abhorrence of torture, he has been publishing The Trenchant Observer, a blog on International
Law, Politics, and Security ( He began publishing, his
Substack newsletter, Trenchant Observations, in May 2022, only months after the Russian
invasion of Ukraine. In principle it is published twice a week. Readers may sign up for either a
free or a paid subscription. (

Jim endeavors to bring his broad experience as a professor of international law, an international
attorney at a major Boston law firm and global companies, and as an international development
practitioner to bear in analyzing international developments of particular significance. While he
also counts international journalists and decision-makers among his readers, he is particularly
interested in engaging the non-specialist reader with a general interest in international affairs. He
believes international affairs are matters which touch and should interest each of us. An aphorism commonly misattributed to Leon Trotsky, comes to mind:

;“You may not be interested in war, but war is interested in you.”
-—Michael Walzer,in Just and Unjust Wars(1977) <

Jim has taught international law and human rights courses at Harvard, Brandeis, the University
of Pittsburgh and other universities. He has an advanced doctorate (Doctor of Juridical Science
in International Law) from Harvard.

With his knowledge of international law and a lifelong interest in history (his college major), Jim
writes for an audience of general readers interested in international affairs, as well as journalists
and decision makers who follow issues more closely.

Most people these days aren’t that interested in foreign affairs. Jim tries to change that, by
sharing his passion for international affairs with his readers recounting the drama
of decision making narratives which is often lost in the press.

He writes with the goal in mind of reducing the enormous complexity of world affairs to terms
which are readily understood by the non-specialist. His articles don’t simply repeat the news of
the day, but rather seek to connect the dots and invite readers to join him in figuring out what is
significant in order to make sense of it all.

Jim majored in modern European history, with a particular focus on twentieth century Germany,
and likes to think he writes with a historian’s eye for what is truly significant. In writing his
articles, Jim draws on a daily review of the leading newspapers in Europe (in German, Spanish,
French, and English), as well as leading newspapers in the U.S. He is a self-confessed news
addict, who says he reads all these newspapers so that his readers don’t have to.

Jim has other blogs, including The Eighteenth Century Club: A Home for Eighteenth Century
, which deals with cultural issues (

Jim attended the 2023 NSNC Annual Meeting. His email is

Links with autobiographical information

1) James Rowles, “Why I care about the war in Ukraine,” Trenchant Observations, June 26,2022.


About the Author

James Rowles
"The Trenchant Observer" is edited and published by James Rowles (aka "The Observer"), an author and international lawyer who has taught International Law, Human Rights, and Comparative Law at major U.S. universities, including Harvard, Brandeis, the University of Pittsburgh, and the University of Kansas. Dr. Rowles is a former staff attorney at the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights (IACHR) of the Organization of American States OAS), in Wasington, D.C., , where he was in charge of Brazil, Haiti, Mexico and the United States, and also worked on complaints from and reports on other countries including Argentina, Chile, Uruguay, El Salvador, Nicaragua, and Guatemala. As an international development expert, he has worked on Rule of Law, Human Rights, and Judicial Reform in a number of countries in Latin America, the Caribbean, Africa, the Middle East, South Asia, and the Russian Federation. In the private sector, Dr. Rowles has worked as an international attorney for a leading national law firm and major global companies, on joint ventures and other matters in a number of countries in Europe (including Russia and the Ukraine), throughout Latin America and the Caribbean, and in Australia, Indonesia, Vietnam, China and Japan. The Trenchant Observer blog provides an unfiltered international perspective for news and opinion on current events, in their historical context, drawing on a daily review of leading German, French, Spanish and English newspapers as well as the New York Times, the Wall Street Journal, the Washington Post, and other American newspapers, and on sources in other countries relevant to issues being analyzed. Dr. Rowles speaks fluent English, French, German, Portuguese and Spanish, and also knows other languages. He holds an S.J.D. or Doctor of Juridical Science in International Law from Harvard University, and a Doctor of Law (J.D.) and a Master of the Science of Law (J.S.M.=LL.M.), from Stanford University. As an undergraduate, he received a Bachelor of Arts degree, also from Stanford, where he graduated “With Great Distinction” (summa cum laude) and received the James Birdsall Weter Prize for the best Senior Honors Thesis in History. In addition to having taught as a Lecturer on Law at Harvard Law School, Dr. Rowles has been a Visiting Scholar at Harvard University's Center for International Affairs (CFIA). His fellowships include a Stanford Postdoctoral Fellowship in Law and Development, the Rómulo Gallegos Fellowship in International Human Rights awarded by the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights, and a Harvard MacArthur Fellowship in International Peace and Security. Beyond his articles in The Trenchant Observer, he is the author of two books and numerous scholarly articles on subjects of international and comparative law. Currently he is working on a manuscript drawing on some the best articles that have appeared in the blog.

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