Thomas Buergenthal Presented Two High Honors

Thomas Buergenthal, Lobingier Professor of Comparative Law and Jurisprudence, was recently awarded with two high honors—the Presidential Order of Excellence and the Law School Dean’s Medallion. President Mikheil Saakashvili of Georgia (pictured) presented Buergenthal with the Presidential Order of Excellence. When making the presentation, President Saakashvili , who studied at GW Law in the mid-1990s, spoke about the influence his former SJD advisor has had upon him. Interim Dean Gregory Maggs presented Buergenthal with the inaugural Law School Dean’s Medallion, which is the Law School’s highest honor. The Dean selects distinguished alumni and friends of the school for this recognition based on achievements in their respective fields and commitment to the improvement of the Law School.

The two awards were bestowed upon Buergenthal at the GW Law International Alumni Weekend Dinner on September 28. In addition to President Saakashvili, GW President Steven Knapp, Provost Steven Lerman, Interim Dean Maggs, and GW Law alumni from more than 15 countries were present to honor Buergenthal. Many of the alumni in attendance were past Buergenthal Scholars who received full or partial scholarships while earning an LLM at GW Law. Such support is made possible in large part to the generosity of Professor Buergenthal and his wife Peggy. 

Thomas Buergenthal is considered one of the world’s leading international human rights experts, and his academic contributions and service to the field are without parallel. Professor Buergenthal first joined the GW Law School faculty in 1989. In 2000, he was elected to the International Court of Justice in The Hague, where he served for a decade before returning to the Law School in the fall of 2010. He has also served as a Judge and President of the Inter-American Court of Human Rights and President of the Administrative Tribunal of the Inter-American Development Bank. He was a member of the U.N. Human Rights Committee and the U.N. Truth Commission for El Salvador. He is a member of the Ethics Commission of the International Olympic Committee and the honorary president of the Inter-American Institute of Human Rights in San José, Costa Rica.  Professor Buergenthal’s academic achievements are equally significant.

Thomas Buergenthal came to the United States at the age of 17. He spent the first 11 years of his life in various German concentration camps and is one of the youngest survivors of Auschwitz and Sachsenhausen. His incredible story of survival is detailed in his book A Lucky Child: A Memoir of Surviving Auschwitz as a Young Boy