In memoriam: Thomas Franck, leader in international law

Thomas Franck, Murry and Ida Becker Professor of Law Emeritus, passed away on May 27 after a long battle against cancer. Franck, a leader in the field of international law, joined the NYU School of Law faculty in 1960, and served as the director of the Center for International Studies from 1965 until his retirement in 2002. Under his leadership, the center trained hundreds of students in international law, hosted numerous distinguished fellows, and produced a large amount of influential research.

Franck made signficant contributions to legal scholarship and practice in his lifetime, and was a strong advocate for the advancement of rule of law in the international arena. His work encompassed a wide range of subjects, including the Constitution and U.S. foreign affairs, the U.N. and the use of force, the "compliance pull" of particular norms in international relations, and the human right to democratic governance. He acted as legal adviser or counsel to many foreign governments; as an advocate before the International Court of Justice, where he successfully represented Chad and Bosnia in a suit brought against Serbia under the Genocide Convention; as a judge ad hoc before the World Court; and as a member of the Department of State Advisory Committee on International Law.

The author of more than 30 books and many articles, addresses, legal arguments, and judgments, Franck was a two-time Guggenheim Fellowship winner. He also won the Christopher Medal (for his book Resignation in Protest), the Hudson Medal of the American Society of International Law (ASIL), and the Read Medal of the Canadian Council of International Law. A revered figure in his field, Franck was recently named honorary president of the ASIL after previously serving as president from 1998 to 2000 and as editor-in-chief of its journal from 1984 to 1993.

In a note to the NYU Law community, Dean Richard Revesz said, "Tom was a prolific scholar, a dedicated teacher, a generous colleague, and a beloved member of the Law School community. He deepened our understanding of the vocation of an international law academic, committed until the very end to advancing the values that animated his life's work. He inspired generations of students, scholars, and faculty, and will be deeply missed."

Posted on May 28, 2009