Professor Sean Murphy Elected to International Law Commission

On November 17, 2011, Professor Sean Murphy was elected by the United Nations General Assembly to the International Law Commission (ILC). The Commission consists of 34 distinguished legal scholars, practitioners, and government officials from around the world who are elected to serve for five-year terms. Created in 1948, the objective of the ILC is to codify and progressively develop international law through restatements of the law, studies of legal topics, and draft treaties.

“I am thrilled at the opportunity to serve on the ILC,” said Professor Murphy after his election. “It’s a terrific opportunity to contribute an American perspective to the Commission’s work, drawing on my experiences as both an academic and practitioner.”

While the U.S. Government nominated Professor Murphy, he serves on the Commission as an independent expert.

“Sean Murphy is rapidly becoming one of the leading international lawyers of his generation, and he perfectly embodies the idea that top scholarship and true engagement with the real world of practice can reinforce each other,” said Dean Paul Schiff Berman. “At GW Law, international law is not abstract; it is part of day to day law practice, and we all celebrate Sean's achievement and all the great work he will do as a member of the Commission.”

Professor Murphy will continue as a full-time professor at the Law School and hopes to bring some of his experiences on the ILC back to the classroom.

"Sean brings a wide range of substantive knowledge that he has acquired over his many years of teaching and advocating before international courts and tribunals,” said Susan Karamanian, Associate Dean for International and Comparative Legal studies. “He will also bring a tempered and reasoned approach to working with his ILC colleagues, which will contribute to promoting the ILC's goal of the progressive development and codification of international law."

Topics currently being studied by the ILC include international law on: the expulsion of aliens; immunity of heads of state from national criminal jurisdiction; protection of persons in times of disaster; the effect of subsequent practice on treaty interpretation; and aut dedere aut judicare (the obligation to extradite or prosecute persons who commit heinous crimes).

Professor Murphy is the Patricia Roberts Harris Research Professor of Law at the George Washington University Law School. Before joining the Law School faculty in 1998, Professor Murphy served as the Legal Counselor of the U.S. Embassy in The Hague, arguing several cases before the International Court of Justice and representing the U.S. government in matters before the International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia, the Permanent Court of Arbitration, and The Hague Conference on Private International Law. He also served as U.S. Agent to the Iran-U.S. Claims Tribunal, arguing cases on behalf of the U.S. government and providing advice to U.S. nationals appearing before that tribunal. Between 1987 and 1995, he served in the U.S. Department of State Office of the Legal Adviser, primarily advising on matters relating to international environmental law, international claims, and military affairs. Since leaving U.S. State Department, Professor Murphy has continued to represent numerous governments before international courts and tribunals. Professor Murphy has published widely, including a general treatise on Principles of International Law and casebooks on international law and on U.S. foreign relations law.

The George Washington University Law School, long recognized as one of the top law schools in the country, pursues a distinctive research and learning mission that engages the leading law and policy questions of our time and provides students with an education that will position them to help change the world. Globally known for its highly regarded International and Comparative Law Program, GW Law currently is ranked fifth in U.S. News & World Report’s listing of Best International Law Programs. Accredited by the American Bar Association and a charter member of the Association of American Law Schools, the Law School was founded in 1865 and was the first law school in the District of Columbia. 

Spotlight Item: Professor Sean D. Murphy, Patricia Roberts Harris Research Professor of Law

Professor Sean D. Murphy, Patricia Roberts Harris Research Professor of Law

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