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Vol. 24, No. 18 March 29, 1999

Law School Creates Nation's First Chair in International Human Rights, Named for Louis Henkin


Creating the country's first endowed professorship of its kind, Columbia Law School has established the Louis Henkin Professorship in International Human Rights.

This new chair signifies the importance of integrating the practice and study of international human rights law, and recognizes the remarkable efforts of Professor Louis Henkin, who has been a human rights activist and scholar for more than 50 years.

Endowed by an anonymous donor and by the Sperry Foundation, Columbia is currently interviewing candidates to fill the Henkin Professorship. Columbia launched its Human Rights Institute last year and is in the process of raising $15 million to help train the next generations of human rights scholars, professors and activists. Under the direction of Professor Catherine Powell, the Institute offers the richest array of human rights curriculum and activities at any law school world-wide. Its aim is nothing less than the professionalization of the human rights movement.

"The struggle for international human rights wages on," said David Leebron, Dean of Columbia Law School and a professor of human rights law. "And Columbia Law School intends to continue to be the model for education and scholarship in the field of human rights. The Louis Henkin Professorship will be the first chair at an American law school dedicated to training the next generation of activists, teachers and world leaders, in an effort to ensure that worldwide human rights are studied, advocated and protected."

A legend in the human rights field, Professor Louis Henkin has a distinguished record as a pioneer in developing human rights law around the world. Henkin, who began his career serving as law clerk to Supreme Court Justice Felix Frankfurter, has served with the U.S. Department of State, NATO and the United Nations. He is an expert in constitutional and international law as well as human rights and author of the seminal book How Nations Behave. Henkin has made specialties of the law of American foreign relations and international and comparative human rights. A former president of the American Society of International Law, he is presently chairman of the directorate of Columbia University's Center for the Study of Human Rights.

Building upon the Law School's renowned human rights program of courses and seminars, Columbia's Human Rights Institute has developed a rich and comprehensive human rights curriculum. It has established a new clinical program that cooperates with leading human rights and civil rights organizations as well as public service in human rights.

A program for Fellows in Human Rights is bringing to Columbia teachers, scholars, activists and practitioners for the human rights work of the future. Post graduate fellowships enable graduates of the Law School to work with intergovernmental bodies and institutions, and with nongovernmental human rights and civil rights organizations. In addition, the Institute is expanding the Law School's groundbreaking summer internship program, and serves as the focal point of human rights conferences. And it has created a World Wide Web site that provides immediate access to human rights agencies around the world, as well as to important historical documents in the Columbia Law Library. The Web site is funded by a gift from the Reed Foundation.