Judge Theodor Meron
Born on 28 April 1930 in Kalisz, Poland.
Judge Theodor Meron was appointed as the first President of the Mechanism by the United Nations Secretary-General effective 1 March 2012. He was later appointed to a second term as President effective 1 March 2016, and to a third term effective 1 July 2018 and through 18 January 2019. Between 17 November 2013 and 16 November 2015, Judge Meron served his fourth term as President of the International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia (ICTY) while performing his functions as President of the Mechanism. He had previously served as President of the ICTY between 2003 and 2005 as well as between 2011 and 2013.
Following his election as a Judge of the ICTY by the U.N. General Assembly in March 2001, Judge Meron, a citizen of the United States, served on the Appeals Chambers of both the ICTY and the International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda (ICTR) until the closure of both Tribunals. A leading scholar of international humanitarian law, human rights, and international criminal law, Judge Meron wrote some of the books and articles that helped build the legal foundations for international criminal tribunals, and he has contributed to the development of international law, and especially international humanitarian and criminal law, in a variety of fora. A Shakespeare enthusiast, he has also written articles and books on the laws of war and chivalry in Shakespeare’s historical plays.
Judge Meron received his legal education at the Universities of Jerusalem, Harvard (where he received his doctorate), and Cambridge. He immigrated to the United States in 1978. Prior to his immigration to the United States, he was legal adviser of the Israeli Ministry of Foreign Affairs, in which role he authored a secret memorandum in 1967 (since made public) in which he concluded that creating new settlements in the Occupied Territories would be a violation of the Fourth Geneva Convention. He also served as the Israeli Ambassador to Canada and Permanent Representative to the United Nations in Geneva.
In 1978, he became a Professor of International Law and, in 1994, he was appointed the Charles L. Denison Chair at New York University School of Law. Between 1991 and 1995 he was also Professor of International Law at the Graduate Institute of International and Development Studies in Geneva, and he has been a Visiting Professor of Law at Harvard University and at the University of California (Berkeley). In 2006, he was named Charles L. Denison Professor Emeritus and Judicial Fellow at New York University School of Law.
In 1990, Judge Meron served as a Public Member of the U.S. Delegation to the Commission on Security and Cooperation in Europe (CSCE) Conference on Human Dimensions in Copenhagen. In 1998, he served as a member of the U.S. Delegation to the Rome Conference on the Establishment of an International Criminal Court (ICC), where he was involved in the drafting of the provisions on crimes, including war crimes and crimes against humanity. He has also served on the Preparatory Commission for the Establishment of the ICC, with particular responsibilities for the definition of the crime of aggression. He has acted as counsel for the United States before the International Court of Justice, and in 2000-2001 served as Counselor on International Law in the U.S. Department of State.
Judge Meron has also served on several committees of experts of the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC), including those on Internal Strife, on the Environment and Armed Conflicts, and on Direct Participation in Hostilities under International Humanitarian Law. In addition, he was a member of the steering committee of ICRC experts on Customary Rules of International Humanitarian Law. He has also served on the advisory committees or boards of several human rights organizations, including Americas Watch and the International League for Human Rights, and was a member of the “Panel of Eminent Persons within the Swiss Initiative to commemorate the 60th anniversary of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights,” which concerned a future agenda for human rights.
Judge Meron was Co-Editor-in-Chief of the American Journal of International Law (1993-1998) and is now an honorary editor. He is a member of the Institute of International Law, the Board of Editors of the Yearbook of International Humanitarian Law, the Council on Foreign Relations, the French Society of International Law, the American Branch of the International Law Association, and the Bar of the State of New York. He is also a Fellow of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences. Judge Meron is a patron and a past Honorary President of the American Society of International Law.
Judge Meron has been a Carnegie Lecturer at The Hague Academy of International Law, Fellow of the Rockefeller Foundation, Max Planck Institute Fellow (Heidelberg), Sir Hersch Lauterpacht Memorial Lecturer at the University of Cambridge, and Visiting Fellow at All Souls College, Oxford. Judge Meron delivered the 2003 General Course of Public International Law at The Hague Academy of International Law. He was also the Marek Nowicki Lecturer for 2008 lectures in Budapest and Warsaw under the auspices of the Open Society Institute, and delivered the 2014 Oxford Annual Lecture on Global Justice. He has lectured at many universities and at the International Institute of Human Rights (Strasbourg). In addition, Judge Meron helped establish the ICRC/Graduate Institute of International and Development Studies seminars for University Professors on International Humanitarian Law. He is a frequent lecturer at ICRC seminars, and he founded and continues to lead the annual ICRC seminars for U.N. diplomats on international humanitarian law at New York University, a tradition spanning three decades.
Since 2014, Judge Meron has been a visiting professor of international criminal law at the University of Oxford. He donates his Oxford salary to the University, which has enabled the establishment of an internship fund for Oxford students at the Mechanism. He is an academic associate at the Bonavero Human Rights Institute in Oxford and a visiting fellow of Mansfield College, Oxford.
Judge Meron was awarded the 2005 Rule of Law Award by the International Bar Association and the 2006 Manley O. Hudson Medal of the American Society of International Law. He was made Officer of the Legion of Honor by the President of France in 2007, and in 2013, Grand Officer of the National Order of Merit. He received the Charles Homer Haskins Prize of the American Council of Learned Societies for 2008. In 2009 he was elected Fellow of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences. In 2011 he received a doctorate honoris causa from the University of Warsaw. In 2017 he was made Officer of the Order of Merit of Poland.
A frequent contributor to the American Journal of International Law and other legal journals, Judge Meron is the author of more than 100 articles in legal publications. His books are: Investment Insurance in International Law (Oceana-Sijthoff 1976); The United Nations Secretariat (Lexington Books 1977); Human Rights in International Law (Oxford University Press 1984); Human Rights Law-Making in the United Nations (Oxford University Press 1986) (awarded the certificate of merit of the American Society of International Law); Human Rights in Internal Strife: Their International Protection (Sir Hersch Lauterpacht Memorial Lectures, Grotius Publications 1987); Human Rights and Humanitarian Norms as Customary Law (Oxford University Press 1989); Henry’s Wars and Shakespeare’s Laws (Oxford University Press 1993); Bloody Constraint: War and Chivalry in Shakespeare (Oxford University Press 1998); War Crimes Law Comes of Age: Essays (Oxford University Press 1998); International Law In the Age of Human Rights (Martinus Nijhoff 2004); The Humanization of International Law (Martinus Nijhoff 2006); and The Making of International Criminal Justice: The View from the Bench: Selected Speeches (Oxford University Press 2011). He is also among the editors of Humanizing the Laws of War: Selected Writings of Richard Baxter (Oxford University Press 2013).
The subject of wide-ranging interviews on CNN’s Amanpour and the BBC’s HardTalk, Judge Meron has made appearances on a variety of major international media outlets over the years and, in 2013, delivered a live-streamed lecture entitled “International Justice on Trial” at the TEDxHagueAcademy.