Taiwan Rule of Law Initiative

Taiwan’s legal landscape has changed tremendously since the lifting of martial law in the late 1980s. It has made impressive progress in judicial reforms and developed relatively robust legal institutions. The changes have not come easily, and improving the rule of law and human rights protections is a daily struggle for reformers on the island.

This dynamic process not only matters for Taiwan’s 2.3 million people, but also has broader implications for the region, especially the People’s Republic of China. The PRC and Taiwan share features of the continental European legal system as well as an authoritarian legal tradition. They have also confronted similar problems that frustrate the justice system, and yet Taiwan has made inspiring progress.

However, Taiwan’s experiences have been under appreciated by the world. The Taiwan Rule of Law Initiative of the U.S.-Asia Law Institute was established to foster the study of Taiwan’s legal evolution. It aims to promote academic and popular understanding of Taiwan’s achievements and challenges on its path to the rule of law. By exploring Taiwan’s experiences, the Initiative also seeks to stimulate reform efforts to address similar challenges facing mainland China and other places in the region.

  • Publish scholarly books, articles and op-eds on Taiwan’s legal developments and current legal debates;

  • Host visiting scholars and practitioners from Taiwan who are researching various aspects of Taiwan’s legal system, including criminal justice, human rights, legal institutions and public interest law;

  • Hold Chinese and English language workshops as well as public programs about Taiwan’s legal development for NYU Law students and faculty as well as the wider intellectual community;

  • Organize conferences that feature exchanges among experts from the United States, China and Taiwan on issues of common interest;

  • Facilitate issue-focused study tours for Taiwanese scholars and legal professionals;

  • Place NYU Law students at host institutions in Taiwan for summer fellowships.


Past Events

December 11, 2013
National Taiwan University Law School Conference: USALI Co-sponsors Challenge to China Book Program

October 28-30, 2013
Delegation Visit: USALI Hosts Visiting Delegation of Judges from Taiwan Studying Jury Trials 

September 25, 2013
Lecture Series: The Ma-Wang Fallout
Pu Hsin-Chih, Prosecutor, Taipei District Prosecutors Office

May, 3 2013
Visiting Scholar Workshop Series: Legal Ethics
Sally Huahsin Yen, Lawyer, Taipei

April 15, 2013
The Eighteenth Annual Timothy A. Gelatt Dialogue on the Rule of Law in Asia:  Criminal Justice in China and Taiwan

April 9, 2013
Lecture Series: Demilitarization of Diaoyutai?
Annette Lu, Former Vice President, Republic of China on Taiwan (2000-2008)

April 3, 2013
Visiting Scholar Workshop Series: Evidence Rules in Taiwan’s Criminal Justice
Yu-Jen Lu, Criminal Judge of Taipei District Court

March 15, 2013
Visiting Scholar Workshop Series: The Prosecutorial system in Taiwan
Shih-Kuo Liu, Prosecutor of Banqiao District Prosecutors Office

March 13, 2013
Roundtable discussion: Taiwan’s Human Rights Review – Concluding Observations and Recommendations
Philip Alston, Professor of Law, NYU School of Law
Jerome Cohen, Professor of Law, NYU School of Law
Shanthi Dairiam, Malaysian human rights and women’s rights advocate and United Nations official


Related Publications

Jerome A. Cohen and Margaret K. Lewis, Challenge to China-How Taiwan Abolished its Version of Re-education Through Labor (Berkshire)

Yu-Jie Chen, “Lawyers’ Activism and the Expansion of the Right to Counsel in Taiwan.” Comparative Perspectives on Criminal Justice in China, edited by Mike McConville and Eva Pils (2013)

Yu-Jie Chen, “One Problem, Two Paths: A Taiwanese Perspective on the Exclusionary Rule in China,” N.Y.U. Journal of International Law & Politics, Volume 43, No. 3, (2011)

Jerome A. Cohen and Margaret K. Lewis, “The Enduring Importance of Police Repression: Laojiao, the Rule of Law and Taiwan’s Alternative Evolution,” in The Impact of China’s 1989 Tiananmen Massacre, Jean-Philippe Béja, ed.,Routledge (2010).

Margaret K. Lewis, “Taiwan’s New Adversarial System and the Overlooked Challenge of Efficiency-Driven Reforms,” Virginia Journal of International Law, Vol. 49, 651 (2009).