OUR SCHOLARS | Dr. John Vafai

John Vafai is an expert in international petroleum law. Vafai is recognized as a leading practitioner in the areas of international business law, business immigration, foreign direct investment and licensing, and natural resources and energy law. He has advised national governments and multi-national companies at the highest levels, previously serving as Deputy Minister of Social and Economic Development of Iran, Counsel to the Governor of Nizhny Novgorod Province, Russia, and the Directory of Legal Affairs and OPEC Negotiations for the National Iranian Oil Company.

He previously served as a Public Policy Scholar at the Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars in Washington, D.C., a visiting legal scholar at Columbia University School of Law, editor of the Harvard Environmental Law Review, and the winner of Yale University’s Ford Foundation James Raymond Goodrich Price for legal scholarship. Vafai earned his Doctorate in Juridicial Science (J.S.D) and Master of Laws (LL.M) from Yale University, his Masters in Public Administration (M.P.A) from Harvard University, and his Juris Doctorate (JD) from the University of Tehran, School of Law.

“There is a concept of Iran that came actually with Khomeini and it’s called ‘fasad fil arz,’ and that means to be the enemy of God. And that is a very broad concept and it could cover any kind of behavior or lack thereof. How did that originate?”


“It came like this: during the revolution there were families and individuals that they really did not do anything but because of that revolutionary zeal certain groups – and certain revolutionary people, they just hated them and not having any documentation at hand the only thing that you could tell and you could accuse these groups is the fact that they were not ‘friends of God’ and therefore they are subject to the jurisdiction of the revolutionary court.”


“Revolutionary courts function outside of the normal judiciary in Iran although they are actually anticipated in law. The revolutionary courts, the head of the revolutionary court, is the head of the judiciary and the head of the judiciary is a religious person appointed by the leader.”


“The crimes that can take place is either within Iran or outside of Iran. The crimes that take place outside of Iran is also – could be also looked at in Iranian courts, revolutionary court.”

Post-Revolutionary Iranian Law

Banking Without Interest

Luxury Services & Useful Fields

Fictitious Partnerships

Competitive Bureaucracies

Praying for Rain

World Trade Organization