Shabtai Rosenne - a tribute.

Position:Israeli diplomat and international law professor - Proceedings of the One Hundred Fifth Annual Meeting of the American Society of International Law - Testimonial


Shabtai Rosenne was born in London on Nov. 24, 1917. He died September 21, 2010 in Jerusalem. Ours is the priceless legacy of those 93 years devoted to scholarship, teaching, lawyering, and diplomacy--much of it in the service of promoting understanding and respect for international law and institutions. This Society marked the achievements of Ambassador and Professor Rosenne:

--by awarding him the Certificate of Merit in 1968 for his great work, The Law and Practice of the International Court;

--by making him an honorary member in 1976,

--and by conferring the Manley O. Hudson Medal on him in 1999.

We were not alone. In 2004, he was the very first recipient of The Hague Prize in International Law.

As many of us know, it is difficult to imagine an international career that is not intimately linked to airplanes. That was certainly true of Shabtai Rosenne. He served in the Royal Air

Force from 1940-46. From 1948 to 1967 he served as Legal Adviser of the Israeli Foreign Ministry. Like his counterparts throughout the world, he spent a fair amount of his time in the air. Even here, Shabtai set the standard. Before we indulge in too much self-pity about the decline in amenities on board airliners in the 21st century, consider this:


Many of us still teach our students about the abduction of Adolph Eichmann from Argentina and his trial in Israel for his role in horrific atrocities. Here is Shabtai traveling to Argentina for talks in the aftermath of its complaint to the UN about the abduction carried out on its territory.


Here is Shabtai en route to Rhodes for armistice talks with Jordan in 1948. One presumes that the lawyer is the sleepless one grabbing the much-needed nap. Like this trip, a fair number of Shabtai's voyages marked important moments in the history of international law and relations.



Much of Shabtai's travel was to the UN headquarters in NY and Geneva, and to other conferences and meeting sites. He served on the ILC from 1962 to 1971, and was elected to the Institut de Droit international in 1963. Shabtai was no shrinking violet. Here he is in the Sixth Committee in 1979 asking for the floor with some determination. Maurice Mendelson put it this way: "For a diplomat, he had an unusually trenchant style, and often gave an impression of impatience, but his opinions were usually spot on." I can vouch for that. The many...

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