Theodor Meron receives honorary law doctorate from University of Warsaw

Theodor MeronTheodor Meron, Charles L. Denison Professor of Law Emeritus and Judicial Fellow as well as a judge in the Appeals Chambers of the International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia (ICTY) and the International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda, was awarded a doctorate of law honoris causa by the University of Warsaw on January 14.

The official citation read at the award ceremony called Meron "one of the most prominent specialists in the field of international law." It mentioned some of the many universities where he has lectured, his status as honorary president of the American Society of International Law, his memberships in prestigious organizations (including the American Academy of Arts and Sciences and the Council on Foreign Relations) and on advisory committees, and his ICTY presidency from 2003 to 2005. At the ICTY, the document said, Meron has contributed to "the development of the standards of the material law" as well as "principles of fair trial and trial guarantees." Per the citation, Meron, who was born and spent his childhood in Poland before being sent to a forced labor camp in World War II and eventually immigrating to the U.S., also played a role in the ongoing creation of international law as a delegate and counselor for various government bodies.

Meron's extensive scholarship, the citation said, demonstrates a particular interest in the relationship between the international legal responsibility of the state regarding international humanitarian law and human rights protection in international law; in doing so, he created a new field of research. He also created a theory, "Meron's Gap," to explore "the gap in international law in situations where internal strife reaches a certain level of intensity but still does not have the character of a military conflict." Such a situation fails to trigger the international humanitarian law of armed conflict, but is also subject to only limited human rights law protection for victims. Meron drafted a declaration of the minimum standards needed to allow for filling in the gap between those two considerations. Other scholarship has focused on the principles of state responsibility, human rights protection in international law, the 20th-century development of the international law of armed conflict, and even the place of military law and chivalric principles in Shakespeare.

 "In light of all the above-mentioned contributions of Professor Theodor Meron to developing the science of international law, his remarkable achievements in providing legal standards with practical applicability... his academic teaching achievements, and his links with Poland," the citation concluded, awarding the honorary degree to Meron was both "fully justified" and "a great honor for the whole academic community."

 Posted on January 18, 2011

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