William Burke-White

Senior Fellow - National Security Program

William Burke-White, a Senior Fellow in FPRI’s Program on National Security, is the Richard Perry Professor, Professor of Law, and Inaugural Director of Perry World House at the University of Pennsylvania. Burke-White, an international lawyer and political scientist, researches and writes on the relationships between law, politics, and economics in international affairs.  Burke-White is a leading expert on US foreign policy and international law. He has particular expertise on the design and implementation of complex global governance solutions that involve multiple countries, international institutions, and legal regimes. He has significant regional expertise on Russia, Venezuela, and Iran.

Since 2014, Burke-White has served as the Inaugural Director of Perry World House, the University of Pennsylvania’s new interdisciplinary global policy institute. Building Perry World House literally from the ground up, Burke-White established an international affairs think tank embedded within the intellectual fabric of the university that links academic research with pressing global policy challenges. In addition to development and management responsibilities, Burke-White has led to broad research themes on the Future of the Global Order: Technology, Power and Governance and Global Shifts: Urbanization, Migration and Demography.

From 2009-2011, Burke-White served in the Obama Administration on the Secretary of State’s Policy Planning Staff, where he was principal drafter of the Quadrennial Diplomacy and Development Review, Secretary Clinton’s hallmark initiative to reform the Department of State and reshape U.S. foreign policy. While at the State Department, Burke-White was also responsible for issues related to US engagement with international institutions, including the G20, the G8 and the United Nations, as well as US policy toward the Russian Federation.

Burke-White has advised a range of governments, law firms, and investment funds on issues including US policy toward foreign policy hotspots (including Russia, Venezuela, and Iran), US and international sanctions regimes, sovereign debt enforcement and sovereign bankruptcy processes, and the impact of international legal rules and institutions on client’s political and business objectives. Burke-White has served as an expert witness in a number of international arbitrations under the auspices of the International Center for the Settlement of Investment Disputes.

Burke-White’s academic writings  have appeared in leading international legal journals and he regularly offers commentary in the media, including opinion pieces in The Hill, CNN.com, The International Herald Tribune, and The Atlantic.

He holds both a bachelor’s and law degrees from Harvard University, and a Ph.D. in international relations from Cambridge University, where he was a Fulbright Scholar. He has served as Visiting Professor at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem, Harvard Law School, the Moscow State Institute of International Relations, and Mofid University in Iran. While on sabbatical from Penn for the 2019-2020 academic year he is a Visiting Fellow at the Brookings Institution.