Rachel E. Stern

When the law meets the party

Rachel E. Stern cited by The New York Review of Books, Aug. 17, 2017

One of the best answers I found was in “Activist Lawyers in Post-Tiananmen China,” an essay by the legal scholar Rachel E. Stern, an assistant professor at Berkeley Law School. Stern takes a usefully long view. She writes that the Communist Party is in the middle of a vast experiment: trying to harness the power of the law without giving up political control.

‘We had to sue’: the five lawyers taking on China’s authorities over smog

Rachel Stern quoted by The Guardian, Feb. 13, 2017

“This lawsuit on this topic at this moment in history is going to be an uphill battle,” says Rachel Stern, author of Environmental Litigation in China: A Study in Political Ambivalence. “I would be surprised if this lawsuit is successful, and if I were betting, I don’t even think it will get accepted by the court.”

The intersection of Chinese law and politics

Rachel Stern interviewed by China File: Sinica podcast, Nov. 30, 2016

Rachel talks … about her recent research, the Chinese bar exam and its politicization, the ways in which environmental litigation works (or doesn’t), and the anxious uncertainty behind much of the self-censorship in media.

China’s green NGOs win the right to sue

Rachel Stern quoted in The Straits Times, January 17, 2015

China environmental law expert Rachel Stern said that with Chinese courts having a history of turning away politically sensitive cases, environmental suits remain hard to fight and win. “Nearly every aspect of the case presents a challenge, from getting the case accepted in court, to gathering evidence, to getting the court decision enforced.”

Is China turning the corner on environmental protection?

Rachel Stern quoted in Earth Island Journal, August 21, 2014

“Historically, China has been struggling with problems of development, and economic development has been the biggest priority at every level of the state,” underscores Stern. “So I think in this turn towards environmental protection, the goal is not necessarily to be the greenest country on earth, but what they talk about in China is finding a new balancing point between environmental protection and economic growth.”

Prominent human rights lawyer denied bail by Chinese authorities

Rachel Stern quoted in Inside Counsel, June 11, 2014

Looking at the big picture, Stern says there has been a “long string of detentions and arrests of politically-inclined lawyers” in China. “Since at least 2004, the Chinese authorities have been watching the legal profession carefully and cracking down on outspoken lawyers, especially those who refuse to listen to warnings,” Stern said.

Changing legal culture, involvement of foreign companies make lawsuits more likely in China

Rachel Stern quoted in Inside Counsel, April 4, 2014

“I don’t think there is a culture of ‘aversion to litigation’ – Chinese people are plenty willing to sue, if they think their dispute will be resolved fairly and efficiently,” Rachel Stern … said in an e-mail. “The bigger problem is that the courts routinely screen cases and turn away cases that are politically sensitive. And then, once the cases are in court, judges tend to be wary of large payouts.”

Poor rural residents in China seen as easy target for environmental lawsuits

Rachel Stern writes for China Dialogue, April 24, 2013

China today boasts a collection of 95 environmental courts, all of which were set up over the past six years. It is a trend that promises to re-shape Chinese environmental law. But simply trumpeting this initiative is no guarantee the environmental courts will live up to their name by making pro-environment decisions. Indeed, initial evidence from Guiyang city in south-west China suggests that ordinary people are pursued by the courts far more often than major polluters are held to task.