Faculty Directory

David A. Wirth


Dean's Distinguished Scholar


David A. Wirth is a professor and Dean's Distinguished Scholar at Boston College Law School, where he has served as Director of International Programs. He teaches primarily in the field of public international law. He has a particularly strong research interest in international environmental law, an area in which he has worked and practiced for more than two decades. In addition to Boston College, he has taught at Harvard, M.I.T., Oxford, Tuft’s Fletcher School of Law and Diplomacy, and the University of Virginia.

Prior to moving to academia, Wirth was Senior Attorney and Co-Director of the International Program at the Washington, D.C. office of the Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC), a nonprofit public interest law firm specializing in environmental issues. While there, he worked on a variety of international environmental issues, including environmental reform of World Bank and regional development banks, the “greenhouse” effect, Soviet and eastern European environmental issues, stratospheric ozone depletion, and exports of hazardous substances.

Wirth has also been Attorney-Adviser for Oceans and International Environmental and Scientific Affairs in the Office of the Legal Adviser of the U.S. Department of State in Washington, D.C., where he had principal responsibility for all international environmental issues, including exports of hazardous substances and technologies, acid rain, and stratospheric ozone depletion. In his positions at the Department of State and NRDC, Wirth had extensive experience in multilateral negotiations under the auspices of the United Nations Environment Program, the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development, the UN Economic Commission for Europe, and other international organizations.

A life member of the Council on Foreign Relations, Wirth has served on advisory boards to a number of institutions of higher learning, domestic agencies, and international organizations, including Vermont Law School, the Environmental Protection Agency, and the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development. He has been a consultant to the United Nations Development Program, United Nations Environment Program, North American Commission for Environmental Cooperation, C.S. Mott Foundation, German Marshall Fund of the United States, and Belgian State Secretary for Energy and Sustainable Development.

A prolific writer, Wirth is the author of more than fifty articles and reports on international environmental law and policy for legal, academic, professional, and popular audiences. He is co-author of major new editions of legal texts on international organizations and environmental law.  Wirth is currently at work on a scholarly treatise on the role of science in international trade law.  His published work has appeared in numerous highly respected journals, including the Yale Law Journal, Columbia Law Review, Virginia Law Review, Foreign Policy, and American Journal of International Law.

Wirth is a 1981 graduate of the Yale Law School and served as law clerk to Judge William H. Timbers of U.S. Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit in New York for a year thereafter. He holds undergraduate and graduate degrees in chemistry from, respectively, Princeton University and Harvard University, at which he held a National Science Foundation Fellowship. During the summer of 1997, he was a Fulbright Scholar through the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE) Regional Research Program. 


Recent Media & Appearances