Dana Zartner

Associate Professor, International Studies Department; Adjunct Professor, USF School of Law

Full-Time Faculty • Part-Time Faculty

(415) 422-6193 Kalmanovitz Hall 222B


Dana Zartner specializes in international and comparative law, with a focus on environmental protections and human rights. Her primary interest lies in understanding how we can better implement positive international human rights laws and environmental protections at the domestic level. Using an interdisciplinary approach that considers both legal cultures and legal institutions within states, Professor Zartner’s first book Courts, Codes, and Custom: Legal Tradition and State Policy Toward International Human Rights and Environmental Law considers ten different countries across five different legal traditions (common law, civil law, Islamic law, East Asian law, and mixed traditions) to understand why some states are better at internalizing international law than others. She has also done work on the role of legal culture in shaping transitional justice in the aftermath of crises, and the institutional factors that best facilitate treaty compliance in the case of the Convention Against Torture.

Professor Zartner’s current research focuses on the environment and the relationship between a healthy environment and the achievement of other human rights. She is fascinated by the question of how we can use indigenous, religious, and cultural understandings of the natural world as important in its own right to overcome current ideas that nature is simply a commodity and create better law and policy that protects both the environment and human rights. She was very inspired by a trip to Cambodia this past summer and meeting a forest-saving monk who has created a community forest in the middle of massive deforestation and blesses trees to ensure they are protected. Her current book project considers the most effective legal arguments to protect nature and peoples’ rights to the natural world through domestic, regional, and international courts. Additionally, Professor Zartner is developing a new project on Corporate Social Responsibility. The realities of today’s world are that corporations are key actors at both the global and domestic levels. Creating better mechanisms to ensure corporations act as engaged global citizens is fundamental to ensuring the protections of human rights and environmental norms.

A proponent of the benefits of working through both local and global institutions, Professor Zartner has attended, as an NGO delegate, a number of United Nations meetings, including the Expert Mechanism on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples in Geneva in 2015 and the Committee on the Status of Women in New York in 2016. While the UN system has its problems and works slowly, she believes that the opportunities afforded global civil society in attending these meetings, having the opportunity to connect with other groups to share ideas and resources, and interact with State delegates, is a vitally important component of promoting and protecting human rights, environmental rights, and indigenous rights.

Advisory Board Member, Environmental Studies
Advisory Board Member, McCarthy Center Steering Committee
Nominator, Goldman Environmental Prize
PhD, Political Science, University of California, Davis
JD, Concentration in International Law, Boston University
BA, International Relations, Hamline University
Development and protection of nature and the environment through law and policy
The relationship between international law and domestic law
The role of culture in the development and understanding of law and politics
The relationship between human rights and the environment
The role of the judiciary in developing international human rights and environmental law

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

Zartner, D. "The (Un)common Law: Internalization of International Law and the Diverging Policies of the U.S. and Australia Towards International Human Rights Law.” (2013). International Political Science Review, 34(4), 411-426.

Zartner, D. "The Culture of Law: Understanding the Influence of Legal Tradition on Transitional Justice in Post-Conflict Societies." (2012). Indiana International & Comparative Law Review, 2(22). 

Zartner, D. & Ramos, R. "Human Rights as Reputation Builder: Compliance with the Convention Against Torture." (2011). Human Rights Review, 12(1), 71-92.

Zartner, D. "Can International Law Survive the 21st Century? Yes, with Patience, Persistence, and a Peek at the Past San Diego." (2007). International Law Journal, 8.

Zartner, D. "Thought versus Action: An Historical Analysis of Legal Traditions to Explain French and American Approaches to International Law." (2006). Maine Law Review: Symposium Issue on French and American Perspectives on International Law.

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