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Reception in Honor of Professor Murphy and the International Law Commission
June 1, 2016

Remarks by Ambassador Pamela Hamamoto
U.S. Mission Geneva
Tuesday, May 31, 2016

Ambassador Pamela Hamamoto and Professor Sean Murphy
Ambassador Pamela Hamamoto and Professor Sean Murphy

Good evening, everybody.  Mr. Chairman, Ambassador Harper, Members of the International Law Commission, Ladies and gentlemen: I’m really happy to see all of you here tonight. I wanted to offer a very warm welcome to the permanent representatives and legal advisers from diplomatic missions, as well as all the members of civil society, law professors, and lawyers from international organizations who have joined us.

Tonight, we honor the work of the International Law Commission and reaffirm our commitment to the rule of law. The ILC comprises some of the best minds in international law – a selective group of thirty-four outstanding jurists from all over the world, who are up to the challenge of developing key instruments and clarifications on key areas of international law.  Without the ILC, our efforts to promote peace, justice, and equality would be in vain.

I think it’s important to recognize the significant connections between the legal discussions within the International Law Commission and the policy discussions happening in other Geneva institutions, as these processes are supportive of one another.

Geneva is a unique place in the world of diplomacy.  It’s where international standards are set, humanitarian response is coordinated, trade disputes are settled, peace negotiations are brokered, and global pandemics are addressed. Here, perhaps more than anywhere else, people understand how difficult, but also how essential it is to bridge differences in cultures, interests, and priorities.

Of course, international law plays a vital role in addressing today’s most pressing global challenges, and in our increasingly interdependent world, we will increasingly need more and better international rules and norms.

And I cannot think of anyone more qualified to do so than my colleague, Ambassador Pedro Comissário.  Just last week, I learned of his commitment to the study of law as a young diplomat in New York – if you get a chance, he has some fascinating stories to share from that time in his life – and I am confident the Commission is in great hands with Pedro as its current Chair.

So I will stop here and hand the floor over to my friend and fellow Geneva Gender Champion, Ambassador Comissário.

* * *

It is now my privilege to introduce the U.S. nominee for re-election to the ILC – Professor Sean Murphy.

Sean has been a distinguished international lawyer for more than 25 years.  He has been a professor of international law at the George Washington University Law School since 1998.

Prior to that, he served as an attorney for the U.S. Department of State with the Office of the Legal Adviser.  He also served for three years as the Legal Counselor of the U.S. Embassy in The Hague, helping to support the important work of the International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia, and appearing in cases before the International Court. His writing is prolific, with books, articles and presentations on numerous topics of international law.

What is impressive about the ILC is how a group of lawyers representing different legal traditions come together to develop collective positions and instruments. And the work of Professor Murphy as the ILC’s Special Rapporteur for Crimes against Humanity is a perfect example. But what’s equally impressive is how the same lawyers help explain the Commission’s work to different constituencies, including in their own countries.

And here, too, through detailed analyses each year in the American Journal of International Law, Professor Murphy’s tireless efforts to reach out to others have allowed him to serve as a terrific ILC “ambassador” to the U.S. community.

Secretary Kerry has called him “an influential ambassador for the Commission” and “an outstanding choice” to help guide the Commission in its important work in the years ahead.

I certainly couldn’t agree more, and I would like to add my voice to that of Secretary Kerry in urging all States to support Professor Murphy’s candidacy in the upcoming ILC election.

So with that, I want to thank you all for coming tonight and I would like to turn the floor over to Professor Sean Murphy.