A law school professor now leads the American Society of International Law.
Sean Murphy, a professor of international law, was inaugurated as president of the bipartisan nonprofit organization that studies international law earlier this month, according to a University release. Murphy said as president, he will host annual meetings to promote international relations and provide law students with more international connections and resources.
Murphy will represent the society at international meetings and work on initiatives, like preventing human rights violations and solving international resource disputes, during his two-year presidency. Murphy served as vice president of ASIL prior to his nomination, according to the release.
“Being president will allow me to use my past experiences both as a practicing lawyer and as a scholar to improve the programming of the society and increase its ability to bring together different actors in the field of international law,” Murphy said.
Murphy started his career at the U.S. State Department in 1987, working as a legal adviser for 11 years before coming to GW in 1998. Murphy said he has long been passionate about international law and currently serves as a member of the U.N. International Law Commission, addressing international humanity crimes.
Murphy said that as president, he has already focused on executing goals, like an initiative called “atrocity prevention,” analyzing why countries like Syria are experiencing human rights violations like chemical attacks and torture.
“It’s certainly very important to think about ways to punish people who have committed these atrocities,” he said. “But, in some ways, it may be even more important to stop the atrocities before they happen, since that avoids victims and so on.”
Murphy said his new job provides an opportunity to expand GW’s global outreach through working with international representatives. Murphy added that he will continue teaching at the law school throughout his presidency of ASIL.
“I think that it may lead to us connecting with different groups around the world,” Murphy said. “While my primary role may be as president of the ASIL, it’s also an opportunity for our University to shine a bit as I go around the world.”
Mark Agrast, the executive director and executive vice president of ASIL, said Murphy’s service in international law combined with his experience working at the State Department and United Nations made him an attractive presidential candidate.
“He really is both the head of our governing body and the voice and the face of the society,” he said. “He represents us all over the world.”
Sarah Freuden, the interim director of the international law and comparative law program, said Murphy is “exceptionally well-suited” for his new role with ASIL because of his history of leadership within the organization.
“Murphy’s new position is a great opportunity for the American Society of International Law, and it’s also great for GW to deepen this relationship and have our name associated with a position that has previously been held by major figures,” she said.