C. Donald Johnson joined the University of Georgia School of Law in June 2004 as the director of the Dean Rusk Center for International Law and Policy. In this capacity, he is responsible for the management and direction of the center’s mission of increasing the understanding of global legal and policy issues through teaching, conferences, research, scholarship and international outreach programs.
Prior to his current role, Johnson was a partner at the law firm of Patton Boggs in Washington, D.C., where he specialized in the law related to international trade and investment, national security and foreign policy issues.
In 1998, he was nominated to the rank of ambassador by President Bill Clinton in the Office of United States Trade Representative and served for two and a half years as chief textile negotiator. Among the significant negotiations concluded during Johnson’s tenure in office were the U.S.-China WTO Accession Agreement and the U.S.-Cambodia Textile Agreement. The latter agreement, which Johnson negotiated with the Cambodian Commerce Minister, is considered a landmark in that it included, for the first time, labor provisions linked to trade benefits. He also led the U.S. in WTO dispute cases involving textiles against the European Union and Pakistan and resolved other disputes through negotiations. Johnson was substantially involved with the development of trade legislation during this period, including the Trade Act of 2000 which incorporated the Caribbean Basin Initiative and African Growth and Opportunity Act.
From 1993 to 1994, Johnson served as the U.S. congressman for the 10th district of Georgia. While in this position, he was a member of the House Armed Services and the Science, Space and Technology Committees and focused on national security and international economic policy. Johnson was also selected to serve as a member of Speaker Tom Foley’s Working Group on Policy. He was a delegate to the North Atlantic Assembly (NATO’s legislative advisory body) in Berlin and Copenhagen and monitored Russia’s first parliamentary (Duma) election in Moscow in December 1993.
Johnson also served in the Georgia State Senate from 1987 to 1992, where he was chairman of the Appropriations Committee, vice chairman of the Judiciary Committee and served as an assistant floor leader for Governor Joe Frank Harris. During his tenure, he was the original author of major legislation enacted to reform the state budget process, sovereign immunity, the ethical standards of public officials and rural telecommunications.
His public service also includes four years in the U.S. Air Force Judge Advocate General’s Office (two years in Turkey ) and serving as trade counsel to the U.S. House of Representatives Ways and Means Committee (1973). Johnson is a member of the bar associations of the District of Columbia, Georgia and Illinois. From 1986 to 1992, he was a member of the State Bar of Georgia’s Board of Governors.
He holds a Master of Laws degree from the London School of Economics and earned his bachelor’s and law degrees from the University of Georgia, where he served as articles editor for the Georgia Journal of International and Comparative Law. He obtained a certificate in private and public international law from The Hague Academy of International Law in The Netherlands.