Doyle-Bascom Professor of Law and Public Affairs
AB (History), Princeton University
MA (History), Yale University
JD, Columbia Law School
Mark Sidel is Doyle-Bascom Professor of Law and Public Affairs at the University of Wisconsin-Madison and an elected member of the American Law Institute. He has served for many years as consultant for Asia at the Washington-based International Center for Not-for-Profit Law (ICNL), focusing on China, India and Vietnam, and joined the ICNL board of directors in June 2022. Since 2020 Sidel has also served as visiting professor of law at Cardozo Law School in New York.
Sidel is affiliated for research with Liverpool Law School, Charity Law and Policy Unit (as Honorary Professor in Law); the Centre for Social Impact and Philanthropy (CSIP) in New Delhi; the US-Asia Law Institute (USALI) at NYU Law School; and the Center for Nonprofit Strategy and Management (CNSM) at City University of New York, Baruch College.
In 2016 and 2017 Sidel served as the Charles Stewart Mott Foundation Visiting Chair in Community Philanthropy at the Lilly Family School of Philanthropy at Indiana University; in spring 2018 as Ian Potter Foundation Fellow at the Australian Centre for Philanthropy and Nonprofit Studies in Brisbane; and in February-March 2020 as visiting scholar at the University of Western Australia Law School in Perth.
In addition to his academic work, Sidel has served as president of the International Society for Third Sector Research (ISTR), the international academic association working to strengthen research on civil society, philanthropy and the nonprofit sector; on the Council on Foundations Community Foundations National Standards Board, the national accrediting and standard setting body for American community foundations and trusts; and on the boards of the Association for Research on Nonprofit Organizations and Voluntary Action (ARNOVA), the Society of American Law Teachers (SALT), and other organizations.
Advising and consulting assignments have included SIDA/Indevelop (Swedish International Development Cooperation Agency, on human rights programs in China); the government of Denmark (Danish Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Danish development cooperation, on human rights and legal reform programs in Vietnam); the Ford Foundation (on legal reform programs in China); the Norwegian Centre for Human Rights (on human rights and legal reform programming in China and Vietnam); the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation (on philanthropic law and policy in China); and many other international and donor organizations. Over the past several years Sidel has assisted a wide range of US and other organizations with issues under the Chinese Overseas NGO Law.
Professor Sidel has served as Visiting Professor of Law at Harvard Law School, Melbourne Law School, Institut d'Etudes Politiques de Paris (Sciences Po, in the chaire Asie), Brooklyn, Cardozo, Victoria, Vermont, Miami and Denver law schools and other institutions, and as W. G. Hart Lecturer in Law at the School of Oriental and African Studies (SOAS) in the University of London. In 2008 he won the ICNL-Cordaid Civil Liberties Prize for his work on the impact of anti-terrorism law on civil society in comparative perspective, and in 2012 he was named to the Outstanding Academic Award by the Nonprofit Organizations Committee of the American Bar Association, Business Law Section. He is a graduate of Princeton University (A.B. in history), Yale University (M.A. in history), and Columbia Law School.
Professor Sidel has consulted or advised in a number of cases, including
- U.S. v. Stephen William Beal (weapon of mass destruction/death case, records largely sealed)
- U.S. v. Kil Soo Lee et al (the largest prosecution of slavery, human trafficking and involuntary servitude since the Civil War)
- Alliance for Open Society International v. US Agency for International Development (on funding restrictions to international affiliates of US nonprofit organizations)
- U.S. Summit Company LP v. Kenneth Phan et al (among the first forum non conveniens cases involving Vietnam)
- assisting the UK Serious Organised Crime Agency and other agencies in the matter of a deportation of a high-profile British citizen from Vietnam
- Denver Foundation v. Wells Fargo Bank (a significant case on the control of community foundations' trust principal); and other matters.
Sidel has frequently served and is frequently cited as an appointed expert for British firms and courts in human trafficking cases involving Vietnam (on a number of occasions), China, and the Philippines. He has also consulted with the U.S. State Department on human trafficking and labor law issues.
Research and publications
Professor Sidel's research and writing focus on the nonprofit sector and philanthropy (with a focus on Asia and the United States); modern secessionary movements; and constitutional law in China and Vietnam.
In addition to scholarly and policy articles, his books include:
- Regulatory Waves: Comparative Perspectives on State Regulation and Self-Regulation in the Nonprofit Sector (Cambridge University Press, 2017, ed. with Oonagh Breen and Alison Dunn)
- Central-Local Relations in Asian Constitutional Systems (Hart Publishing, 2015, ed. with Andrew Harding)
- State, Society and the Market in Contemporary Vietnam: Property, Power and Values (Routledge 2012; paper ed. 2015, ed. with Hue-Tam Ho Tai)
- Regulation of the Voluntary Sector: Freedom and Security in an Age of Uncertainty (Routledge 2010)
- The Constitution of Vietnam: A Contextual Analysis (Hart 2009)
- Law and Society in Vietnam (Cambridge University Press 2008)
- Cinema, Law, and the State in Asia (Palgrave MacMillan 2007, ed. with Corey Creekmur)
- Vietnam's New Order: International Perspectives on the State and Reform (Palgrave Macmillan 2006, ed. with Stephanie Balme)
- More Secure, Less Free? Antiterrorism Policy and Civil Liberties after September 11 (University of Michigan Press 2004, updated 2nd ed. 2007)
- Philanthropy and Law in South Asia (APPC 2004, ed. with Iftekhar Zaman, updated ed. 2007)
- Old Hanoi (Oxford University Press, 1998)
Sidel's work has also appeared in ChinaFile, US-Asia Law Institute Perspectives, Nonprofit Policy Forum, Alliance, ForeignPolicy.com, Nonprofit and Voluntary Sector Quarterly, International and Comparative Law Quarterly, Michigan Law Review, Voluntas, Third Sector Review, Alliance, Michigan Journal of International Law, Pittsburgh Law Review, Texas International Law Journal, Tulane Law Review, Charity Law and Practice Review, UCLA Pacific Basin Law Journal, UC Davis Law Review, Chicago-Kent Law Review, China Quarterly, Asian Survey, SAIS Review, Signs, and other academic and professional journals, as well as in edited volumes.
Sidel is honored to have collaborated on research and writing with Stephanie Balme, the late Barnett Baron, Oonagh Breen, Corey Creekmur, Dana Doan, Alison Dunn, the late Peter Geithner, Andrew Harding, Robert Jarvis, David Marr, Hu Ming, David Moore, Christopher Pallas, Son Pham, Hue-Tam Ho Tai, Iftekhar Zaman, Zhang Qianjin, Zhang Ye and other distinguished colleagues.
External and earlier activities
Sidel has extensive experience in international philanthropic and funding communities. He served on the Ford Foundation team with Peter Geithner, Zhang Ye and other colleagues that established the Foundation's office in China and as the Foundation's first program officer for law, legal reform, and nonprofit organizations based in China (Beijing) in the late 1980s.
In the early and mid-1990s, he developed and managed the Ford Foundation's programs in Vietnam. Later he developed and managed the regional program on philanthropy and the nonprofit sector for the Ford Foundation in South Asia (New Delhi). Sidel also served on the Ford Foundation's Endowment Working Group and as a drafter of the Foundation's endowment handbook and has consulted for the Foundation.
Before coming to Wisconsin, Sidel served as Professor of Law, Lauridsen Family Fellow, and Faculty Scholar at the University of Iowa. He serves on the boards of the International Center for Not-for-Profit Law, The Rights Practice (US), and the ACLU of Wisconsin, and until recently on the board of Asia Catalyst (US), and the advisory board for the Lin Centre for Community Development (Ho Chi Minh City). He is a member of the editorial or editorial advisory boards of Voluntas: International Journal of Voluntary and Nonprofit Organizations; Third Sector Review (Australia); USALI Perspectives (US-Asia Law Institute, NYU); Development in Practice; Asian Journal of Law and Society; and the Australian Journal of Asian Law (Melbourne).
Sidel practiced law with Baker & McKenzie in New York, Beijing and Hong Kong and is a non-active member of the New York bar. He speaks and reads Chinese and reads Vietnamese.
Updated August 2023
Scholarship & Publications
- Nonprofit and philanthropic organizations in the United States, China, India, Vietnam and in comparative perspective
- Civil society and the law in Asia
- Contemporary secessionist movements in the US, Australia and Canada
- Comparative constitutionalism, particularly in China, Vietnam, and other parts of Asia
- Human trafficking
Mark Sidel presented on new institutional aspects of Party control over social policy in China, and China's policies toward overseas foundations and nongovernmental organizations at the annual meeting of the Association for Research on Nonprofit Organizations and Voluntary Action in Orlando, Florida, in November 2023.
Mark Sidel has been elected to the American Law Institute, the private, independent, nonprofit organization that publishes Restatements of the Law, Principles of the Law and model codes and seeks to clarify, modernize and improve the law and the administration of justice in the United States.
Mark Sidel presented on new developments in regulation of civil society in China at the Association for Research on Nonprofit Organizations and Voluntary Action-Asia conference, held July 7-8, 2023, online from Japan.
Along with his co-authors Hu Ming and Zhang Qianjin, Mark Sidel has published an article on the regulation of volunteering in China in China Quarterly, a widely read academic journal in the China studies field. Read the article.
In mid-May 2023, Mark Sidel worked with government and nonprofit institutions in Abu Dhabi and Dubai on the reform of nonprofit and philanthropic regulation in the United Arab Emirates (UAE), invited by the UAE Office of the Crown Prince and the Ministry of Community Development. Sidel has worked on nonprofit and philanthropic regulatory efforts in China, India, Vietnam and a number of other countries over several decades.
On May 3, 2023, Mark Sidel presented to Columbia University's China Center for Social Policy on the formation and responsibilities of the Central Social Affairs Department under the Chinese Communist Party, the new Party body responsible for social policy in China.
Mark Sidel gave a presentation on Feb. 25, 2023, on China's first group of diplomats sent to the United Nations after the PRC regained its UN seat in November 1971, for the Helen T. Lin Legacy Initiative. Titled "When the PRC Came to New York: The Extraordinary Foreign Affairs Group China Sent to New York in 1971 and What Became of Them," the talk chronicled a group that Sidel and his family knew well in the 1970s in New York and later in Beijing.
Mark Sidel presented the UCLA Global Chinese Philanthropy Lecture on Feb. 23, 2023, speaking on "Chinese Policy Toward International Giving in the COVID Era."
Mark Sidel published a commentary on Vietnam's increasingly restrictive regulatory policies toward nongovernmental organizations and civic space in NYU's U.S.-Asia Law Institute Perspectives. Read the commentary.
Mark Sidel presented on issues facing U.S.-China relations in the nonprofit and civil society sector at a conference convened by the Penn Project on the Future of U.S.-China relations Jan. 26-27, 2023.
Mark Sidel presented "After the Party Congress: Examining the Status of the Regulatory Framework for Civil Society in China" at an online forum convened by the International Center for Not-for-Profit Law (ICNL) on Jan. 11, 2023. Sidel has long worked with ICNL on Asia and serves on ICNL's board of directors.
Mark Sidel presented on climate for international nonprofits in China, and the prospects for resuming U.S.-China academic exchanges, to the advisory council of the U.S. China Educational Trust on Dec. 15, 2022.
Mark Sidel presented on legal constraints on the nonprofit sector and philanthropy since Sept. 11 at an online symposium on counter-terrorism and its impact on Muslim charitable institutions convened by the Lilly Family School of Philanthropy at Indiana University on Dec. 14, 2022.
Mark Sidel presented on civil society in Asia in the face of surging global authoritarianism, on the rise in restraints on citizen volunteering in Asia, and on trends in research on nonprofits and civil society in Asia during the annual meeting of the Association for Nonprofit Organizations and Voluntary Action (ARNOVA) Nov. 16-19, 2022.
Mark Sidel has been named honorary professor in law at Liverpool Law School. Sidel continues his work with the Law School and its Charity Law and Policy Unit on comparative nonprofit law and regulation.
News & Media
Wednesday, Oct 11, 2023Mark Sidel Discusses Recent Arrests of Climate Leaders in Vietnam
Wednesday, Jul 19, 2023Mark Sidel Elected to The American Law Institute
The American Law Institute
Wednesday, Feb 1, 2023Mark Sidel Discusses Vietnam's Closing Legal Space for Civil Society
U.S.-Asia Law Institute
Wednesday, Aug 25, 2021Mark Sidel publishes commentary on China's use of restrictive legislation in the early months of COVID-19
The China NGO Project
Friday, Apr 29, 2016Mark Sidel: It Just Got Harder to Make a Difference in China
Wednesday, Apr 27, 2016Mark Sidel comments on China's new law restricting foreign NGOs
Inside Higher Ed
Tuesday, Apr 26, 2016Mark Sidel discusses contentious Chinese law that would treat overseas nonprofit groups as potential security threats
The Wall Street Journal
Thursday, Dec 3, 2015Mark Sidel discusses shifting strategy among philanthropic organizations
Monday, Feb 13, 2012Mark Sidel discusses Vietnamese land rights dispute
- Comparative Law
- Human Trafficking and Involuntary Servitude
- Nonprofit and Philanthropic Organizations