Dana Zartner

Associate Professor of International Studies, and Adjunct Professor in the School of Law, University of San Francisco

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About Dana

Zartner's research focuses on international and comparative law and its internalization at the intersection of human rights and environmental justice. Overarching themes in Zartner's writings include: the role of legal culture and legal institutions in shaping approaches to law and policy in the areas of human rights and environmental justice; innovative and multilevel activism to create better environmental law and policy, particularly using the courts and in the face of non-supportive governments; shifting ideas of the human-nature relationship to promote more sustainable environmental policy; corporate social responsibility and the role of non-state/sub-state actors; and recognizing and addressing vicarious trauma and compassion fatigue in those working in social justice fields. Zartner has served as an accredited representative at various UN meetings, including the Expert Mechanism on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples and the Human Rights Council in Geneva and the Committee on the Status of Women in New York.


"Courting Nature: Innovative Advocacy & Judicial Activism for Protecting the Environment" (forthcoming).

Considers the intersection of environmental protections and human rights with a series of case studies from around the world including the United States, Cambodia, New Zealand, India, Norway, Ecuador, and Kenya, and bringing in multiple non-state actors such as activists, indigenous groups, corporations, and regional and international courts. 

"From Patagonia to Paris: Corporations as Promoters of Social Justice in the 21st Century" (forthcoming).

Uses examples of corporations who are leading in areas of corporate social responsibility. Seeks to better understand the mechanisms that facilitate corporate social responsibility and provides a guide for other corporations to change their approach to the world.

"Focus on the Positive: How Do We Keep Our Classes from Becoming Too Depressing?" Journal of Political Science Education (2018).

Considers the very real issues many face when working in difficult fields. Explores compassion fatigue, burnout, and vicarious trauma and the effect these can have on student and faculty well-being in the classroom and beyond, and outlines a number of techniques and actions that can be taken in our classrooms to help us focus on the positive. 

Courts, Codes, and Customs: Legal Tradition and State Policy toward International Human Rights and Environmental Law (Oxford University Press, 2014).

Argues that the degree to which states accept and comply with international legal norms is rooted in a country's domestic legal tradition. Looks specifically at state policy towards international human rights and environmental law. Disaggregates the concept of legal tradition and examines how the individual cultural and institutional characteristics present within a state's domestic legal tradition facilitate or hinder the internalization of international law and, subsequently, shape state policy.

"The Culture of Law: Understanding the Influence of Legal Tradition on Transitional Justice in Post-Conflict Societies" Indiana International & Comparative Law Review 22, no. 2 (2012).

Examines the assumption that outside assistance and courts are essential for addressing issues in the aftermath of humanitarian crisis in the context of Uganda. Considers how the state's legal tradition shapes societal perceptions about justice, peace, and appropriate actions in the aftermath of a crisis. Considers what local communities, steeped in their own histories and legal traditions, believe are the best solutions in post-conflict societies and argues that traditional legal mechanisms such as customary law and religious law should be considered in addition to Western-style codes and courts in order to have a more effective system of transitional justice.

"Stemming the Flow of Environmental Displacement: Creating a Convention to Protect Persons and Preserve the Environment" Colorado Journal of International Environmental Law and Policy 1 (2001).

Examines the root causes of environmental degradation and impacts of climate change that are causing increased migration of environmentally displaced persons. Argues for a new international convention that provides protections for environmentally displaced persons and creates affirmative obligations for states to work toward addressing climate change and preventing environmental displacement in the future.