Harold Hongju KohRecipient 2008 Judith Lee Stronach Human Rights Award
CJA is pleased to award the 2008 Judith Lee Stronach Human Rights Award to Harold Hongju Koh. Dean Koh is Dean of Yale Law School and Gerard C. and Bernice Latrobe Smith Professor of International Law. From 1998 to 2001, he served as Assistant Secretary of State for Democracy, Human Rights and Labor. Before joining Yale, he practiced law at Covington and Burling and at the Office of Legal Counsel at the Department of Justice. In 2009, Dean Koh was appointed Legal Advisor to the State Department under the Obama Administration.
Dean Koh is a leading expert on international law and a prominent advocate of human and civil rights. He has argued before the United States Supreme Court and testified before the U.S. Congress more than twenty times. His accomplishments, which are too numerous to list here, include leading a successful 1993 fight to the Supreme Court to free hundreds of Haitian refugees held in Guantánamo Bay. He has been an outspoken critic of the Bush Administration's policies on the illegality of torture and cruel, inhuman and degrading treatment, the scope of the President's constitutional powers to authorize torture and cruel treatment by U.S. officials, and the applicability of the Geneva Conventions to alleged combatants held in U.S. custody.
He is recipient of the 2005 Louis B. Sohn Award from the American Bar Association and the 2003 Wolfgang Friedmann Award from Columbia Law School for his lifetime achievements in International Law. He is author of eight books, including Transnational Legal Problems (with H. Steiner and D. Vagts), Deliberative Democracy and Human Rights (with R. Slye) and The National Security Constitution, which won the American Political Science Association's award as the best book on the American Presidency.
He is a Fellow of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences, an Honorary Fellow of Magdalen College, Oxford, a former Visiting Fellow at All Souls College, Oxford, a member of the Council of the American Law Institute, and a member of the American Philosophical Society. He has held fellowships from the Guggenheim Foundation and the Century Foundation. He sits on the Boards of Overseers of Harvard University and on the Board of Directors of the Brookings Institution, Human Rights First, the American Arbitration Association, and the National Democratic Institute. He has been named one of America's “45 Leading Public Sector Lawyers Under The Age of 45” by American Lawyer magazine and one of the “100 Most Influential Asian-Americans of the 1990s” by A magazine.
A Korean-American native of Boston, he holds a B.A. degree from Harvard College and B.A. and M.A. degrees from Oxford University, where he was a Marshall Scholar. He earned his J.D. from Harvard Law School and served as a law clerk for Justice Harry A. Blackmun of the U.S. Supreme Court and Judge Malcolm Richard Wilkey of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit.