International Court of Justice

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Current Members


Judge Thomas Buergenthal

(Member of the Court since 2 March 2000; re-elected as from 6 February 2006)

Born in Lubochna, Slovakia (US National), on 11 May 1934.

B.A., Bethany College, West Virginia (1957); Juris Doctor, New York University School of Law (Root Tilden Scholar) (1960); Master of Laws, Harvard Law School (1961); Doctor of Juridical Science, Harvard Law School (1968). Honorary Doctorates: Bethany College (1981), University of Heidelberg (1986), Free University of Brussels (1994), State University of New York (Buffalo) (2000), American University Washington College of Law (2002), University of Minnesota (2003), George Washington University Law School (2004), University of Göttingen (2007), New York University (2008), and St. Edward’s University (2009).

Member of the Bars of the State of New York, District of Columbia, and United States Supreme Court.

Professor of Law, State University of New York (Buffalo) School of Law (1962-1975); Fulbright and Jaworski Professor of International Law, University of Texas School of Law (1975-1980); Dean and Professor of International Law, American University Washington College of Law (1980-1985); I. T. Cohen Professor of Human Rights, Emory University School of Law and Director, Human Rights Program of the Carter Center (1985-1989); Lobingier Professor of Comparative Law and Jurisprudence and Presiding Director, International Rule of Law Center, The George Washington University Law School (1989-2000).

Judge and President, Inter-American Court of Human Rights (1979-1991); Judge and President, Administrative Tribunal, Inter-American Development Bank (1989-1994); Member, United Nations Truth Commission for El Salvador (1992-1993); Member, United Nations Human Rights Committee (1995-1999); Member, Panels of Conciliators and of Arbitrators, International Centre for Settlement of Investment Disputes, World Bank (since 1997); Arbitrator (1997-2000) and Vice-Chairman, (1999-2000), Claims Resolution Tribunal for Dormant Accounts in Switzerland; Member, Ethics Commission, International Olympic Committee (since 2005).

Chairman, United States Government Delegation to Unesco Specialized Conference on International Education (1974); Chairman, Human Rights Committee, United States National Commission for Unesco (1976-1979); Chief United States Representative, Unesco Executive Board Working Group on Human Rights Procedures (1977/1978); Member, Advisory Board, President’s Commission on the Holocaust (1978-1979); Vice-President, Unesco Congress on the Teaching of Human Rights and Chairman, United States Delegation to the Congress (Vienna, 1978); Member, United States Government Delegation, Conference on Security and Co-operation in Europe, Copenhagen (1990); Member, United States Government Delegation, Conference on Security and Co-operation in Europe, Expert Meeting on Democratic Institutions, Oslo (1991); Member, United States Holocaust Memorial Council (1996-2000) and Chairman of its Committee on Conscience (1997-2000).

Rapporteur, Study Panel on International Human Rights Law and its Implementation, American Society of International Law (1970-1975); Member, Board of Directors, International Institute of Human Rights (René Cassin Foundation), Strasbourg, France (1970-1989); American Society of International Law, Member, Executive Council, (1977-1980; 1986-1989); Vice-President, (1980-1982); Honorary Vice-President (1994-1999); Honorary President (2001-2009); Associate Reporter (1978-1980), Member, Advisory Committee (1980-1986), American Law Institute, Restatement (Third) on the Foreign Relations Law of the United States; Chairman, Human Rights Committee, International Law and Practice Section, American Bar Association (1981-1982; 1991-1992); Member, Standing Committee on World Order Under Law, American Bar Association (1997-1999); Member, Administrative Council, Blaustein Institute of Human Rights (1996-2000); Member, Kuratorium, Max Planck Institute for Public International Law, Heidelberg, Germany (1984-2002); Founder and President, Inter-American Institute of Human Rights (1980-1992), Honorary President (since 1992); Vice-Chairman, Academic Council, Institute of Transnational Arbitration (1998-2003), Honorary Chairman (since 2004); Member, Executive Committee, American Bar Association Center for Human Rights (since 2003).

Member, American Bar Association, American Society of International Law, American Law Institute, Council on Foreign Relations, German Society of International Law. Associé, Institut de Droit International.

Pro-Humanitas Prize, West-Ost Kulturwerk (Federal Republic of Germany) (1978); Unesco Human Rights Prize (First Honourable Mention) (1978); Book Award (First Prize) of the Inter-American Bar Association for Protecting Human Rights in the Americas: Selected Problems (1982); Distinguished Service in Legal Education Award (1987), Alumni Achievement Award (2005), New York University Law School Association; Wolfgang G. Friedmann Memorial Award for Outstanding Achievement in International Law, Columbia University Law School (1989); Harry Leroy Jones Award for Outstanding Achievements in Foreign and International Law, Washington Foreign Law Society (1990); Human Rights Prize, Jacob Blaustein Institute for the Advancement of Human Rights (1997); Goler T. Butcher Medal for Excellence in Human Rights, American Society of International Law (1997); Manley O. Hudson Medal, American Society of International Law (2002); Louis B. Sohn Award, International Law Section of the American Bar Association (2006); International Humanitarian Award for Advancing Global Justice, Case Western Reserve University Law School (2006); Gruber Prize for International Justice (2008).

Member, Editorial Boards: American Journal of Comparative Law (1966-1977); American Journal of International Law; Human Rights Law Journal; Europäische Grundrechte Zeitschrift; Revue Universelle des Droits de l’Homme, Encyclopedia of Public International Law (R. Bernhardt, ed.); Anuario Mexicano de Derecho Internacional; and International Affairs (2008).

Author of numerous books, essays and articles. Books include, inter alia: Law-Making in the International Civil Aviation Organization, 1969; International Protection of Human Rights (with L. B. Sohn), 1973; Public International Law (with S. Murphy), 4th ed., 2007; International Human Rights (with D. Shelton and D. Stewart), 3rd ed., 2002; Protecting Human Rights in the Americas (with D. Shelton), 4th ed., 1995; Grundzüge des Völkerrechts (with Kokott and Doehring), 3rd ed., 2003; A Lucky Child (2007; 2009).