GW Law Professor Elected Member of Renowned Institute

Professor Sean D. Murphy
September 29, 2021

Professor Sean D. Murphy, Manatt/Ahn Professor of International Law, has been elected as a Member of the Institute of International Law (Institut de Droit International), a global non-governmental organization of international lawyers. In 1904 the Institute of International Law was awarded the Nobel Prize for Peace.

“For U.S. lawyers, the Institute might be analogized to the American Law Institute,” Professor Murphy said. “Both are non-governmental organizations but, because they have a highly-talented membership, their resolutions or restatements of law can be quite influential with practitioners,academics and judges, at least if they are based on a rigorous assessment of the law.” 

“By drawing upon its worldwide and multilingual expertise, the Institute is well-positioned to identify rules that are globally representative and acceptable,” Professor Murphy said. 

Founded in 1873 at the Ghent Town Hall in Belgium by 11 international lawyers of distinction, today, the Institute has a limited membership consisting of no more than 132 persons under the age of 80. Before his election, there were only eight current members from the United States, making the opportunity even more meaningful for Professor Murphy. 

“Both professionally and personally, it’s quite gratifying that my contributions to the field of international law were seen as meriting my election, especially when there are plenty of other highly talented international lawyers out there,” Professor Murphy said. 

Before joining GW Law, Professor Murphy served as legal counselor at 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. 

Since entering academia, he has represented several countries in international courts and tribunals, including Ethiopia, Jordan, Kosovo, North Macedonia, Suriname, Uganda and the United States. He has also served as an arbitrator in inter-State and investor-State arbitrations, and as an ad hoc judge on the International Tribunal for the Law of the Sea. 

At GW Law, which he joined in 1998, he has found a professionally-enriching and supportive academic community. “GW Law has been extraordinarily supportive throughout my academic career, allowing me to teach a range of international law courses, giving me the opportunity to write and lecture in the field, and welcoming my other activities, such as serving as the President of the American Society of International Law,” Professor Murphy said. “The rich array of professors, students, and librarians dedicated to international law at GW have really kept me on my toes over the years.”