Robert Howse is an internationally recognized authority on international economic law and is also a specialist in 20th century European legal and political philosophy, particularly the thought of Alexander Kojève and Leo Strauss. Professor Howse received his B.A. in philosophy and political science with high distinction, as well as an LL.B., with honours, from the University of Toronto, where he was co-editor in chief of the Faculty of Law Review. He also holds an LL.M. from the Harvard Law School. He has been a visiting professor at Harvard Law School, Tel Aviv University, Tsinghua University, and Osgoode Hall Law School in Canada and taught in the Academy of European Law, European University Institute, Florence. During the fall of 2005 Howse was a visiting professor at the University of Paris 1 (Panthéon-Sorbonne).
Since 2000, Professor Howse has been a member of the faculty of the World Trade Institute, Berne, Master’s in International Law and Economics Programme. He is a frequent consultant or adviser to government agencies and international organizations such as the OECD, UNCTAD, the Inter-American Development Bank, the Law Commission of Canada and the UN Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights. He is a Reporter for the American Law Institute on WTO Law. He has acted as a consultant to the investor's counsel in several NAFTA investor-state arbitrations. He is a core team member of the Renewable Energy and International Law (REIL) project, a private/public partnership that includes, among others, Yale University, the law firm of Baker & McKenzie and the investment bank Climate Change Capital. Howse serves on the editorial advisory boards of the European Journal of International Law and Legal Issues in Economic Integration. He has also held a variety of posts with the Canadian foreign ministry, including as a member of the Policy Planning Secretariat and a diplomat at the Canadian Embassy in Belgrade.
Howse is the author, co-author, or editor of six books, including Trade and Transitions; Economic Union, Social Justice, and Constitutional Reform; The Regulation of International Trade; Yugoslavia the Former and Future; The World Trading System; and The Federal Vision: Legitimacy and Levels of Governance in the EU and the U.S. He is also the co-translator of Alexander Kojève’s Outline for a Phenomenology of Right and the principal author of the interpretative commentary in that volume.
Howse was named the Alene and Allan F. Smith Professor of Law in 2003.
Howse left Michigan Law in 2008 to join the New York University School of Law.