International law professor Sonia Elise Rolland recently joined Northeastern as part of the School of Law’s drive to expand its global law program. Rolland’s research aims to build a better set of legal guidelines for trading goods and services with developing countries. Her goal is to help developing nations gain a more prominent voice for their concerns at the World Trade Organization (WTO).
“The current focus of my work is to suggest better rules that expand our toolbox for addressing universal challenges in developing countries,” says Rolland. “The question is: Are the WTO rules preventing public policies from working in these countries?”
In her dissertation, titled “What legal framework for development at the World Trade Organization?” Rolland analyzes the rights of developing countries in the WTO.
She has also published articles covering other aspects of international law, including “The Precautionary Principle: Development of an International Standard,” which appeared in the Michigan Journal of International Law and has received several awards. In fact, the article’s application of the precautionary principle in international environmental law was recently endorsed by the International Law Commission in a resolution by the United Nations General Assembly.
It was her childhood in Michigan that led her to pursue a career in international law. A native of France, Rolland and her family moved to Michigan when she was in elementary school. Quickly, however, her trepidation about settling into a new country vanished, and she cites the welcoming attitude of her school classmates as the reason. “I was treated as an equal by the American students,” she recalls. “And that really meant something to me.”
Her transatlantic experience led her to realize the impact that international law has on every aspect of life, from sending a postcard overseas to buying a cup of coffee. She now eagerly shares that enthusiasm for international law with her students.
Rolland, who earned her law degree from the University of Michigan Law School and is a doctoral candidate at Cambridge University in England, was drawn to Northeastern because of its vision for global education and the School of Law’s commitment to expanding its international law program. Currently, she teaches courses in international law, international trade law, and transnational litigation.