Patrick Keenan


An expert in human rights and international law, Professor Keenan focuses his research and scholarship on the connections between human rights, economic development, and business. He has published articles examining conflict minerals, human trafficking and tourism, China’s role in Africa, the human rights potential of sovereign wealth funds, the International Finance Corporation’s investments in Africa and the Caribbean, and many other issues. 

Professor Keenan teaches courses on human rights, development, international criminal law, and the responsibilities of lawyers. He also created, and for 10 years directed, the Human Rights Law Clinic, in which students worked directly with lawyers and advocates in Africa and the Caribbean on human rights issues. 

In addition to teaching at the University of Illinois, he served as a visiting professor at the University of Chicago Law School and lectured at the Chuo University School of Law in Tokyo.  

Before coming to Illinois, Professor Keenan litigated death penalty cases in Georgia and Alabama as an attorney with the Southern Center for Human Rights.

Professor Keenan graduated from Yale Law School and Tufts University, clerked for Judge Myron H. Thompson of the U.S. District Court for the Middle District of Alabama, and served in the Peace Corps in the Democratic Republic of Congo.

Conflict Minerals and the Law of Pillage, Chicago Journal of International Law (forthcoming, 2014). 

International Institutions and the Resource Curse, Penn State Journal of Law and International Affairs (forthcoming 2014).

Business, Human Rights, and Communities:  The Problem of Community Consent in Development, Fordham Journal of International Law Online (forthcoming 2013).

Regulating Information Flows, Regulating  Conflict:  An Analysis of United States Conflict Minerals Legislation, 3 Goettingen Journal of International Law 129 (2011).  (Co-author, with Christiana Ochoa). 

The Future of the Guiding Principles, 105 Proceedings of the Annual Meeting of the American Society of International Law 301 (2011).

The IFC’s New Africa, Latin America, and Caribbean Fund:  Its Worrisome Start, and How to Fix It, 30 Journal of Financial Transformation 127 (2010). 

Toward a Multilateral Sovereign Investment Agency, 40 Georgetown Journal of International Law 1151 (2009).   (Co-author, with Christiana Ochoa).

Sovereign Wealth Funds and Social Arrears:  Should Debts to Citizens be Treated Differently Than Debts to Other Creditors? 49 Virginia Journal of International Law 431 (2009).

Curse or Cure?  China, Africa, and the Effects of Unconditioned Wealth, 27 Berkeley Journal of International Law 83 (2009).

Financial Globalization and Human Rights, 46 Columbia Journal of Transnational Law 509 (2008).

Do Norms Still Matter?  The Corrosive Effects of Globalization on the Vitality of Norms, 41 Vanderbilt Journal of Transnational Law 327 (2008).

The New Deterrence:  Crime and Policy in the Age of Globalization, 91 Iowa Law Review 505 (2006).

Judges and the Politics of Death:  Deciding Between the Bill of Rights and the Next Election in Capital Cases, 75 Boston University Law Review 3 (1995).  (Co-author, with Stephen B. Bright).