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Online Interviews with International Lawyers

Published on February 22, 2011        Author: 

The Harvard International Law Journal’s website has initiated a fascinating series of interviews with leading international lawyers (see here). Thus far, the focus has been on practising international lawyers with experience in government and international organizations. There are  recent interviews with John Bellinger III, Legal Adviser at the US State Department from 2005-2009, Larry Johnson, former UN Assistant Secretary General for Legal Affairs and most recently with Jean-Claude Piris formerly Director General of the Legal Service of the Council of the European Union. The interviewers explore how these individuals got into the practice of international law and interviewees reflect on their experiences at the highest levels of government and international organizations. For example Larry Johnson speaks of his experience in crafting the Statutes of the International Criminal Tribunals for the Former Yugoslavia and the Special Tribunal for Lebanon. Apparently, Security Council members were opposed to including international crimes into the Statute of the latter. In his interview, John Bellinger not only reflects on his own experiences as Legal Adviser in George Bush’s State Department but also comments on the failure of the Obama Administration’s to achieve progress in certain areas of international law.

There is another very interesting set of interviews of international law scholars and practitioners on the website of the University of Cambridge’s Squire Law Library. The Eminent Scholar’s archive includes interviews with distinguished international lawyers such as Prof. Sir Eli Lauterpacht, Prof. Sir Derek Bowett, Judge Stephen Schwebel and Prof. Martti Koskenniemi all of whom have a Cambridge connection, have had distinguished academic careers as well as very significant practical experience of international law. The Cambridge interviews are longer than the Harvard ones but no less interesting. Apart from the interview of Martti Koskenniemi (which I particularly recommend), the Cambridge interviews are largely autobiographical and provide very interesting recollections of the careers of these individuals. They not only include transcripts but also audio files.

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