Sue Biniaz, one of the key architects of the Paris Climate Agreement, joins EPIC as a distinguished visiting fellow this winter quarter. While at the University, Biniaz will also be teaching a seminar at the University of Chicago Law School on the negotiation of international agreements, with a focus on climate change.
“Sue is quite simply one of the most brilliant legal minds and skilled negotiators in international environmental law, with her fingerprints on all of the major international climate agreements, including the Paris Climate Agreement itself,” says Michael Greenstone, director of EPIC and the Milton Friedman Professor in Economics. “We are thrilled to have the opportunity to learn from her and to have her as part of the University of Chicago community.”
“I’m really looking forward to spending time at Chicago,” said Biniaz. “I do a lot of speaking at universities, but the day I spent at Chicago left a huge impression on me. I remember telling everyone back in D.C. how intellectually stimulating it was.”
In her law seminar, students will learn about the cross-cutting features of international environmental agreements, and, through the lens of climate change, explore the process of negotiating agreements, the development of national positions, the advocacy of positions internationally, and the many ways in which differences among negotiating countries are resolved. She will also give several public talks during her time on campus and be available to meet with students and faculty.
“Our students will undoubtedly gain enormous insight on how major international negotiations work and how to think critically through developing the agreements and confronting challenging positions,” says Thomas Miles, Dean and Clifton R. Musser Professor of Law at the University of Chicago Law School. “We are fortunate to have someone of Sue’s caliber bring decades of real-world experience to our campus.”
Biniaz’s expertise extends beyond environmental and climate issues. She also served as a Deputy Legal Adviser at the State Department, where she supervised the offices handling treaty law, human rights, Western Hemisphere Affairs, international criminal law, and private international law. Previously, she headed the legal office that addresses oceans, environmental, and scientific matters, as well as the legal office for European Affairs. Biniaz attended Yale College and Columbia Law School and clerked for the Honorable Dorothy W. Nelson on the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals.