Zachary D. Kaufman, J.D., Ph.D., is Associate Professor of Law and Political Science at the University of Houston Law Center (UHLC), where he teaches Criminal Law, International Law, and International and Transitional Justice. He also holds appointments at the University’s Department of Political Science, Hobby School of Public Affairs, and Elizabeth D. Rockwell Center on Ethics and Leadership. During the 2021-22 academic year, he will be on leave from UHLC to be a visiting professor at Washington University in St. Louis School of Law.
Immediately before joining the University of Houston, Professor Kaufman taught at Stanford Law School and was a Senior Fellow at Harvard University’s Kennedy School of Government. Previously, Professor Kaufman held academic appointments at Yale Law School, Harvard Law School, Stanford University, and New York University and taught at Yale University’s Department of Political Science and George Washington University’s Elliott School of International Affairs.
Professor Kaufman received his J.D. from Yale Law School (where he was an Olin Fellow, Editor-in-Chief of the Yale Law & Policy Review, Managing Editor of the Yale Human Rights & Development Law Journal, Articles Editor of the Yale Journal of International Law, and co-founder and co-president of Yale Law Social Entrepreneurs). He received his D.Phil. (Ph.D.) and M.Phil., both in International Relations, from Oxford University (where he was a Marshall Scholar). He received his B.A. in Political Science from Yale University (where he earned several academic, athletic, and public service awards and was the student body president, a residential counselor, co-captain of the wrestling team, and an All American and Runner-up National Champion in the National Collegiate Wrestling Association).
Professor Kaufman is currently working on his fourth book, this one on the law and politics of bystanders and upstanders (forthcoming with Cambridge University Press). The three other books of which he is the author or editor are: United States Law and Policy on Transitional Justice: Principles, Politics, and Pragmatics (Oxford University Press, 2016); Social Entrepreneurship in the Age of Atrocities: Changing Our World (Edward Elgar Publishing, 2012); and After Genocide: Transitional Justice, Post-Conflict Reconstruction, and Reconciliation in Rwanda and Beyond (Oxford University Press, 2009). He is also the author of over 40 articles and book chapters, most of which are available on his Social Science Research Network (SSRN) page. His work is published or forthcoming in the Boston College Law Review, Southern California Law Review, Harvard International Law Journal, Harvard Journal on Legislation, Yale Journal of International Law, Yale Law & Policy Review, Yale Human Rights & Development Law Journal, Stanford Law & Policy Review, Emory International Law Review, Journal of International Criminal Justice, Criminal Law Forum, and other journals. He has also written for popular outlets, including the New York Times, the Washington Post, the Boston Globe, the San Francisco Chronicle, the New York Daily News, Foreign Policy, Forbes, Just Security, and Central African Magazine. He has delivered over 300 lectures around the world, including in Australia, Canada, Denmark, Germany, Israel, the Netherlands, Rwanda, South Africa, Spain, Sweden, Turkey, the United Kingdom, and the United States. He has been interviewed by numerous media outlets, such as National Public Radio, the BBC, NBC News, CNBC, Voice of America, the Boston Globe, the Houston Chronicle, and the Huffington Post. His research has been supported by competitive grants from Yale Law School, Harvard University, the University of Houston, the International Criminal Justice Resource Center, and the Minerva Center for the Study of the Rule of Law under Extreme Conditions.
Professor Kaufman has served in all three branches of the U.S. government. In the judicial branch, he was a U.S. Supreme Court Fellow and clerk to a judge on the U.S. Court of Appeals for the First Circuit. In the legislative branch, he was a Council on Foreign Relations International Affairs Fellow on the U.S. Senate Foreign Relations Committee, during which he was a lead architect of both the Elie Wiesel Genocide and Atrocities Prevention Act (enacted in January 2019) and the Syrian War Crimes Accountability Act (enacted in August 2018 as section 1232 of the National Defense Authorization Act). In the executive branch, he served at the U.S. Departments of State and Justice. He also has served at three international war crimes tribunals: the International Criminal Court (where he was the first American to serve) as well as the UN International Criminal Tribunals for Rwanda and for the Former Yugoslavia. In the private sector, Professor Kaufman has practiced law at O’Melveny & Myers LLP and worked at Google.
Professor Kaufman is involved in various academic organizations and think tanks. From 2013 to 2018, he was a Term Member of the Council on Foreign Relations. He currently serves as a member of the Yale Law School Association Executive Committee (which provides advice to the Law School and its Dean), Co-Chair of the American Society of International Law’s Human Rights Interest Group, member and Secretary of the Association of American Law Schools‘ International Human Rights Section’s Executive Committee, member of the Association of American Law Schools‘ National Security Law Section’s Executive Committee, Fellow of the Truman National Security Project, member of Genocide Watch’s Board of Advisors, and member of the American Political Science Association, the International Studies Association, the Law and Society Association, the International Association of Genocide Scholars, and the International Network of Genocide Scholars.
Professor Kaufman is deeply committed to the Association of Marshall Scholars (AMS). He serves on the AMS Board of Directors’ Executive Committee and on the Marshall Scholar Regional Selection Committee for Texas, Colorado, New Mexico, Oklahoma, Arkansas, and Louisiana.
Professor Kaufman dedicates a significant portion of his time to non-profit organizations and social enterprises. He is a Senior Fellow and board member of Humanity in Action, a non-profit educational organization dedicated to protecting minority and human rights. From 2001 to 2015, he was the founder, president, and chair of the Board of Directors of the American Friends of the Kigali Public Library, which partnered with the Rotary Club of Kigali-Virunga (of which he is an honorary member) to build Rwanda’s first-ever public library, the Kigali Public Library (also known as Rwanda Library Services). The institution now serves as Rwanda’s national public library and focal point for the country’s annual “Rwanda Reads” literacy campaign. From 2011 to 2020, he was a member of the Board of Advisors (including as its chair from 2013 to 2016) of Indego Africa, a non-profit social enterprise that partners with cooperatives of artisan women in Rwanda and Ghana to bring their products to Western markets. He also served on Indego Africa’s Board of Directors from 2014 to 2016.
Professor Kaufman frequently consults for a wide array of individuals and organizations in the public and private sectors. He has advised, among others, two successful U.S. presidential campaigns, the White House National Security Council, the U.S. Department of State, the U.S. Department of Defense, the U.S. Senate Foreign Relations Committee, sitting and prospective members of the U.S. Congress, the Lieutenant Governor of a U.S. state, the New York City Office of the Mayor, and Facebook.
Professor Kaufman has received numerous awards for his work. Dartmouth College Tuck School of Business students named him “A Leader of Our Generation,” Humanity in Action bestowed on him its Dr. Louis Rabineau Award to “recognize outstanding leadership,” the Diplomatic Courier and Young Professionals in Foreign Policy recognized him as one of the world’s “Top 99 Under 33 Foreign Policy Leaders,” the J.W. Saxe Memorial Fund awarded him its prize for public service, the chief prosecutor of the International Criminal Court awarded him a certificate of commendation, the chief prosecutor of the UN International Criminal Tribunals for Rwanda and for the Former Yugoslavia presented him with an award for “outstanding contributions to international criminal justice,” and he was an invited delegate to the International Achievement Summit hosted by Steven Spielberg and George Lucas.