David Cohen, is Director of the WSD Handa Center for Human Rights and International Justice at Stanford University, where he is WSD Handa Professor in Human Rights and International Justice and Professor of Classics. He publishes in the fields of human rights, international criminal law and transitional justice. Cohen taught at UC Berkeley from 1979-2012 as the Ancker Distinguished Professor for the Humanities, and served as the founding Director of the Berkeley War Crimes Studies Center, which moved to Stanford in 2013 and became the Handa Center. Cohen has led justice sector reform initiatives, human rights projects, legal education initiatives, and tribunal training and monitoring programs in Indonesia, East Timor, Sierra Leone, Bangladesh, Rwanda, Thailand, and Cambodia. At the regional level, Cohen works with ASEAN human rights institutions on human trafficking, rule of law, judicial integration, and other issues. He also serves as Advisor to the Human Rights Resource Center for ASEAN, based in Jakarta, leading the Center’s research projects. Current initiatives in SE Asia include a multi-country project to improve data collection and analysis on human trafficking at the regional, national, and local level; serving as an expert resource person for the Indonesian National Anti-Corruption Commission and National Witness Protection Agency; working with the Indonesian National Human Rights Commission to prepare cases of gross human rights violations for prosecution; multi-year human rights training programs for judges and prosecutors through the Indonesian Supreme Court, the Philippine Supreme Court, and the Prosecutor General of East Timor; assistance in developing IT resources for the National Genocide Museum and the Legal Documentation Center for the Khmer Rouge Tribunal in Cambodia; developing the workplan and pilot curriculum for an ASEAN Judiciaries Training Program

Academic Appointments

  • Professor, Classics

Administrative Appointments

  • Director, WSD Handa Center for Human Rights and International Justice (2014 - Present)

Program Affiliations

  • Program in International Relations

Current Research and Scholarly Interests

Current research includes book projects on World War II war crimes trials; the Tokyo and Nuremberg International Military Tribunals; analysis of blasphemy prosecutions in Indonesia; analysis of the misuse of electronic communication, criminal defamation, lese majeste, blasphemy and asspociated laws in Southeast Asia; international best practices on whistleblower protection and justiuce collaborators in corruption cases in ASEAN; the UN justice process in East Timor under the Special Panels for Serious Crimes; comparative study of strategic decision making in American, British, and Japanese policy circles in WWII; analysis of the Judgment in Case 002/2 at the Khmer Rouge Tribunal in Cambodia.


  • Justice sector reform, human rights, human trafficking, and rule of law in Indonesia, Cambodia, Philippines, and ASEAN, WSD Handa Center for Human RIghts and International Justice

    Various ongoing projects at the national and regional level in Southeast Asia/ASEAN involving training of judges, prosecutors, legal aid lawyers, human righst defenders, university faculty, civil society organizations, and the National Human Rights Commission of Indonesia, the National Anti-Corruption Commission of Indonesia, the Indonesian National Witness Protection Agency, the Indonesian Supreme Court, the Supreme Court of the Philippines, thje University of the Philippines, the University of Indonesia, Jentera School of Law, Indonesian Institute for and Independent Judiciary (LeIP), Indoensian Insitute for Justice Sector Reform (ICJR)


    Jakarta, Indonesia; Phnom Penh, Cambodia, Manila, Philippines

2020-21 Courses