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November 22, 2005


Contact:  Claire Duggan:  (202) 994-0616;

               Wendy Carey:  (202) 994-3087;   



WASHINGTON - Judge Thomas Buergenthal, The George Washington University Law School Lobingier Professor Emeritus of Comparative Law and Jurisprudence, was re-elected on November 7 to serve on the International Court of Justice, the principal judicial organ of the United Nations. The court settles legal disputes submitted by states and gives advisory opinions on legal questions referred by international agencies. Buergenthal is the sole American on the court, composed of 15 members that are elected to nine-year terms by the United Nations General Assembly and Security Council. He has been serving on the court since 2000.


"We are delighted that the United Nations Security Council and the United Nations General Assembly re-elected our valued friend and colleague Thomas Buergenthal to the International Court of Justice," said GW Law School Dean Frederick M. Lawrence. "Tom is a distinguished international jurist who brings a rare combination of intellectual rigor, compassion, and wisdom to all his work, and we at GW are enormously proud of his accomplishments."

            Over his career, Buergenthal has been a world leader in promoting international human rights law. Since beginning his academic career in 1961, he has been instrumental in introducing international human rights law as a standard offering in the curricula of
U.S. law schools. He is the author of more than a dozen books and numerous articles on international and human rights topics.  He joined the GW faculty in 1988 and served as the Lobingier Professor of Comparative Law and Jurisprudence. During his tenure, he directed GW's nationally recognized International and Comparative Law Program. Previously, Buergenthal served as dean of the American University Washington College of Law and has held endowed professorships in international law at the University of Texas and Emory University.


Buergenthal's judicial career includes service as president of both the Inter-American Court of Human Rights and the Administrative Tribunal of the Inter-American Development Bank. He was a member of the United Nations Truth Commission for El Salvador and the U.S. national member of the United Nations Human Rights Committee. Buergenthal also served as vice chairman of the Claims Resolution Tribunal for Dormant Accounts in Switzerland. He was recently named to the Ethics Commission of the International Olympic Committee.

            One of the youngest survivors of
Auschwitz and Sachsenhausen, the Czech-born Buergenthal immigrated to the United States in 1951. He received his J.D. from New York University, where he was a Root-Tilden Scholar, and his LL.M. and S.J.D. from Harvard University. He holds honorary doctorates in law from, among other universities, The George Washington University, University of Heidelberg, Germany, and Free University of Brussels, Belgium.


            The international law program at the GW Law School is ranked among the top ten programs in the nation according to U.S. News & World Report's graduate school rankings. Accredited by the American Bar Association and a charter member of the Association of American Law Schools, the law school enrolls more than 1,800 students each year.

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