Faculty & Staff



Assistant Professor of Law


LLM, with distinction, Georgetown University Law Center
JD, Georgetown University Law Center
M2, SciencesPo
BS, magna cum laude, Butler University


Melissa Stewart is an Assistant Professor of Law at the William S. Richardson School of Law. She teaches and writes in the areas of contracts, international law, human rights, international environmental law, law of the sea, and transnational litigation and arbitration.

Professor Stewart’s research combines theoretical and practical approaches to complex problems of international law, with a focus on the rights of stateless persons, refugees, migrants, and the internally displaced. She is particularly interested in the role of the state in the protection of rights and strengthening mechanisms for international protection when the link between the individual and the state is fragile or has been irrevocably broken. To this end, her scholarship has illuminated gaps in protection for individuals who have been discriminatorily deprived of their nationality and forcibly displaced across international borders as well as those who are seeking pathways to regular migration in the context of climate change or vulnerable to the loss of territory due to sea-level rise. Her award-winning scholarship has appeared in leading journals such as the Virginia Journal of International Law, American Journal of International Law, the Stanford Journal of International Law, and the Georgetown Immigration Law Journal.She is also a contributor to Lawfare, Just Security, and Transnational Litigation Blog and is a co-author of the International Migrants Bill of Rights.

Professor Stewart joined Richardson from Georgetown University Law Center, where she held appointments as a Research Fellow, an Adjunct Professor of Law, and the Dash-Muse Teaching Fellow at Georgetown Law’s Human Rights Institute. She also held an appointments as a Visiting Fellow at the Australian National University College of Law and a Lecturer in Law at the Center for Transnational Legal Studies in London.

Prior to academia, Professor Stewart spent several years in private practice at Foley Hoag, LLP where she advised clients on matters related to international law, human rights, law of the sea, international environmental law, and corporate social responsibility. She represented clients before various United Nations bodies and was co-counsel to the Republic of the Philippines in the historic South China Sea arbitration before the Permanent Court of Arbitration. She also represented clients in complex civil litigation, cross border disputes, civil rights cases, and asylum cases in state and federal court, including at trial in United States District Courts in the Northern District of California and the Southern District of New York. In addition to her time in private practice, Professor Stewart also worked with the United Nations International Law Commission, the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees, the Center for Constitutional Rights, Refugees International, Partners In Health, and the Harvard Initiative for Global Health.

Professor Stewart earned her JD and LLM from Georgetown Law, where she was a Global Law Scholar. She received her master’s degree in international economic law, global governance studies from SciencesPo in Paris. She was previously a Kathryn Davis Fellow for Peace at Middlebury College and a Public Policy & International Affairs Fellow at the University of Michigan Ford School of Public Policy.

Professor Stewart currently serves as the co-chair of the Junior International Law Scholars Association and is an Advisory Board Member of the Migrants Rights Initiative based at Cornell Law School.


Melissa Stewart, Cascading Consequences of Sinking States, 59 Stan. J. Int’l L (2023). SSRN 

Melissa Stewart, Statelessness: A Modern History, Mira L. Siegelberg, 117 Am. J. Int’l L. 371 (2023). Cambridge Core 

Melissa Stewart, “A New Law on Earth,” Hannah Arendt and the Vision for a Positive Legal Framework to Guarantee the Right to Have Rights, 62 Va. J. Int’l L. 115 (2021). SSRN | HeinOnline (Honorable Mention, 2022 American Society of International Law International Legal Theory Interest Group Scholarship Prize)

Mélida Hodgson & Melissa Stewart, Experts in Investor-State Arbitration: The Tribunal as Gatekeeper, 9 J. Int’l Dispute Settlement 453 (2018). Oxford Academic 

Joseph Klingler, Nicholas Renzler, & Melissa Stewart, International Courts: The South China Sea Arbitration Award, Am. Bar Assoc. The Year in Review (2017).

Ian Kysel, Justin Gest, Randy Nahle, Bianca Santos, Melissa Stewart, et al, International Migrants Bill of Rights with Commentary, 28 Geo. Immigr. L. J. 9 (2013). HeinOnline | Georgetown

Melissa Stewart, Development in the International Field: “Rotting of the Flower”: Persecution of the Rohingya Threatens Myanmar’s Democratic Transition & Further Imperils the Right to a Nationality, 27 Geo. Immigr. L. J. 473 (2013). HeinOnline

Melissa Stewart, Development in the International Field: Holland Administration Continues Discriminatory Deportations of Roma in France, 27 Geo. Immigr. L. J. 247 (2012). HeinOnline

Other Writing (Select List)

Melissa Stewart, Historic Climate Opinion and Its Potential Impact on U.S. Litigation, June 6, 2024, Transnational Litigation Blog.

Melissa Stewart, What to Watch for Following Historic Climate Opinion from ‘The Oceans Court,’ June 4, 2024, Just Security.

Melissa Stewart, Climate Change Advisory Opinion Requests: Risk and Reward, March 23, 2023, Lawfare

Melissa Stewart, Kashef v. BNP Paribas SA Overcomes the Forum Non Conveniens Hurdle, May 21, 2022, Transnational Litigation Blog.

Melissa Stewart, SEC Extractive Industry Transparency Requirements Move Forward, Jan. 20, 2016, Global Business and Human Rights
Amy Lehr, Gwendolyn Jaramillo, Melissa Stewart, et al, Banks and Human Rights: A Legal Analysis, (2015). UNEP FI

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