Thomas Buergenthal

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Thomas Buergenthal

Thomas Buergenthal is one of the foremost jurists and scholars in the field of international human rights.

Co-author of the first American law school case book on international protection of human rights and author of the first law school text on international human rights, Professor Buergenthal served from 2000 until 2010 as the American judge on the International Court of Justice. Between 1979 and 1991, he was a judge and president of the Costa Rica-based Inter-American Court of Human Rights. He also served on the United Nations Human Rights Committee and the United Nations Truth Commission for El Salvador.

In 2010, Professor Buergenthal, who is widely recognized as an architect of the field of human rights law, returned to the chair in comparative law and jurisprudence at George Washington University Law School that he had held prior to his election to the International Court. Today he is a member of the Ethics Commission of the International Olympic Committee and is on the advisory board of the International Center for Ethics, Justice and Public Life at Brandeis.

One of the youngest survivors of Auschwitz, he says that experience made him a better judge because he knows "what it is to be a victim."

Honorary Degree Citation

Teacher, jurist, scholar in the field of international human rights. An architect of the field of human rights law, you authored the first law school text on international human rights and co-authored the first American law school case book on the international protection of human rights. You served from 2000 until 2010 as the American judge on the International Court of Justice, and between 1979 and 1991 you were a judge and president of the Costa Rica-based Inter-American Court of Human Rights. You also served on the United Nations Human Rights Committee and the United Nations Truth Commission for El Salvador. In 2010, you returned to the chair in Comparative Law and Jurisprudence at George Washington University Law School, the professorship you held prior to your election to the International Court. You serve as a member of the Ethics Commission of the International Olympic Committee, and we at Brandeis are particularly proud that you are a member of the advisory board of our International Center for Ethics, Justice and Public Life. One of the youngest survivors of Auschwitz, you made a life commitment to the goal of “Never again.”

For your scholarship, wisdom and tireless pursuit of justice, Brandeis University is proud to bestow upon you its highest honor.