Sean D. Murphy

Photo of Sean Murphy

Sean D. Murphy

Manatt/Ahn Professor of International Law


Office Phone: (202) 994-8763
Fax: (202) 994-5654
2000 H Street, NW Washington DC 20052

Sean D. Murphy teaches, writes, and practices in the fields of public international law and U.S. foreign relations law.

Before joining the George Washington University Law School faculty in 1998, 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 US government in matters before the International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia. He also served as US agent to the Iran-U.S. Claims Tribunal, arguing cases on behalf of the US government and providing advice to US 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 oceans and international environmental law, international claims, and international humanitarian law. Since leaving the U.S. Government, Professor Murphy has represented several countries in international courts and tribunals, including Armenia, Ethiopia, Jordan, Kosovo, North Macedonia, Suriname, Uganda and the United States, has served as an arbitrator in inter-State and investor-State arbitrations, and has sat as an ad hoc judge on the International Tribunal for the Law of the Sea.

Professor Murphy has published numerous articles on international law; his article on international environmental liability won the American Journal of International Law (AJIL) 1994 Deák Prize for best scholarship by a younger author. His book Humanitarian Intervention: The United Nations in an Evolving World Order won the 1997 American Society of International Law certificate for preeminent contribution to creative scholarship. His most recent books are The Law of U.S. Foreign Relations (2023) (with Swaine); U.S. Foreign Relations Law: Cases, Materials and Simulations (5th ed. 2023) (with Swaine and Brunk); International Law: Cases and Materials (7th ed. 2019) (with Damrosch); Principles of International Law (3d ed. 2018);  International Law relating to Islands (2017); and Litigating War: Arbitration of Civil Injury by the Eritrea-Ethiopia Claims Commission (2013) (with Kidane and Snider).

Professor Murphy was a Member of the U.N. International Law Commission (2012-22), for which he served as its special rapporteur for crimes against humanity, and is a Member of L’Institut de Droit International. Professor Murphy served for ten years on the AJIL Board of Editors and, during 2018-20, as President of the American Society of International Law.

In the News

"How Diplomats Commit Crazy Crimes Living Abroad — and Get Away with It"

Sean D. Murphy was quoted by the New York Post about enforcing parking laws on foreign diplomats.

"Talking International Law"

Sean D. Murphy discussed on the RMIT University (Australia) "Better Place" podcast important issues in international law.

"Five Common Misconceptions About Diplomatic Immunity, Debunked"

Sean D. Murphy is quoted in Washingtonian about the criticisms voiced about the principle of...


BA, Catholic University; JD, Columbia University; LLM, Cambridge University; SJD, University of Virginia

  • 6520 - International Law
  • 6871 - U.S. Foreign Relations Law