A GW Law School professor will join 33 legal scholars and government officials to deliberate on global legal standards Jan. 1 as part of the 64th session of the United Nations International Law Commission.
The United Nations elected Sean Murphy by secret ballot at its November General Assembly meeting in New York after Secretary of State Hillary Clinton nominated him in October 2010. He represents the only commission member from the U.S.
Murphy described the commission – established by the United Nations General Assembly in 1948 to help coordinate legal actions across the globe – as “the legal think tank for the United Nations.”
“It was a huge honor to be nominated by the U.S. and a further honor to be elected,” he said. “One reason this came my way is the extremely supportive environment the law school and the University has provided for all my endeavors.”
Murphy said his upcoming term on the commission would cover a half-dozen topics, including laws to protect the rights of people who have been expelled as illegal aliens and legal immunities accorded to heads of state. By studying these topics, the commission will restate existing laws and draft treaties.
Much of the commission’s discussion takes place via e-mail or telephone, Murphy said. He plans to remain teaching at GW when the commission is not meeting in Geneva during the summer.
“In the period between now and when I become fully engaged next summer, I will be spending a lot of time reading into the prior work of the commission, especially the topics they are still working on,” Murphy said.
Murphy has been at GW since 1998, teaching courses in international law, U.S. foreign relations law and international organization. Prior to teaching, he spent 12 years as a lawyer in the Department of State Office of Legal Advising.
Associate Dean for International and Comparative Legal Studies Susan Karamanian said Murphy’s energy would greatly benefit the work of the commission, as well as law students.
“Our students will be able to learn first-hand about the law-making process at the international level and gain insight into the important items on the ILC agenda,” Karamanian said.