José E. Alvarez elected to the American Academy of Arts & Sciences

José Alvarez

Herbert and Rose Rubin Professor of International Law José E. Alvarez has been elected a member of the American Academy of Arts & Sciences (AAAS), one of the oldest and most prestigious learned societies in the United States. He is among 252 new members announced on April 22—a group that also includes Texas Supreme Court Chief Justice Nathan Hecht, journalist Kara Swisher, and media entrepreneur Oprah Winfrey—and one of only five law professors who were chosen. 

Alvarez teaches and researches international law, foreign investment, and international organizations. He is a former president of the American Society of International Law, the previous co-editor-in-chief of the American Journal of International Law, and a member of the Institut de Droit International and Council on Foreign Relations. He is faculty director of the Law School's US-Asia Law Institute.

The American Academy was founded in 1780, during the American Revolution, by John Adams, John Hancock, and 60 other scholar-patriots in order to gather knowledge and advance learning in service to the public good. Its elected members are world leaders in the arts and sciences, business, philanthropy, and public affairs. The AAAS also elected seven other NYU faculty as members this year.

In his acceptance letter to the Academy, Alvarez wrote: “The wholly unexpected honor of joining a group whose esteemed members include my personal hero, Alexander Hamilton, is humbling and thrilling. Shortly after coming into New York harbor as a six-year immigrant I learned English from a picture book explaining Hamilton's role in the founding. Long before his life became a Broadway musical, I took comfort in seeing how this nation welcomed another immigrant from the Caribbean.”

“Hamilton's pride in his election to a Society that, despite its fledgling status in 1791, he held in ‘high and respectful opinion,’ is evident in his letter of acceptance,” Alvarez wrote. “I suspect that for him, as for me, it represents a form of acceptance into a nation—and not only into a group of fellow scholars.”

Before entering academia on a full-time basis in 1989, Alvarez was an attorney adviser with the Office of the Legal Adviser of the US Department of State, where he worked on cases before the Iran-US Claims Tribunal, served on the negotiation teams for bilateral investment treaties and the Canada-US Free Trade Agreement, and was the legal adviser to the administration of justice program in Latin America coordinated by the Agency of International Development. Alvarez has also been in private practice and was a judicial clerk to the late Judge Thomas Gibbs Gee of the US Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit. 

His more than 140 articles and book chapters and six books have made substantial scholarly contributions to a wide range of subjects within international law, including the law-generating rules of international organizations, the challenges facing international criminal tribunals, the boundaries between “public” and “private,” and legitimacy issues surrounding the international investment regime.

Posted April 29, 2021