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David Caron ’83 to Lead American Society of International Law

By Andrew Cohen

Berkeley Law Professor David Caron ’83 was named president of the American Society of International Law (ASIL) March 25 during the organization’s annual meeting in Washington, D.C. He will serve a two-year term with ASIL, a nonprofit, nonpartisan group that fosters the study of international law and promotes international relations based on law and justice through meetings, publications, and outreach programs.

ASIL’s 4,000-plus members—who hail from nearly 100 countries—include attorneys, academics, corporate counsel, judges, representatives of governments and nongovernmental organizations, international civil servants, students, and others interested in international law. Its programs focus on judicial education and training, legal education and skills training for members of the legal profession, career development for law students and practitioners, and public education on international law’s connection to global developments and life in the United States.

Although the U.S. has a complex and often conflicted relationship to international law and organizations, Caron believes it has often been the strongest champion of both. “Yet there is also a current within American politics that views them with suspicion,” he says, “even when a particular question may be in America’s interests. Something isn’t necessarily desirable simply because it’s international, but it’s also not necessarily misguided. International law often combines our most deeply-held values and reflects a law that our nation has had a tremendous role in shaping.”

Caron has served as counsel for Ethiopia before the Eritrea-Ethiopia Claims Commission, president of the International Centre for Settlement of Investment Disputes Tribunal in the matter of Aguas del Tunai v. The Republic of Bolivia, and chair of the Advisory Board for the Institute of Transnational Arbitration at the Center for American and International Law. Currently a member of the U.S. Department of State Advisory Committee on Public International Law and NAFTA’s Chapter 11 Arbitration Panels, Caron also chaired the International Law Section of the Association of American Law Schools, was both director of studies and director of research at The Hague Academy of International Law, and spent 15 years on the American Journal of International Law’s board of editors.

In October, Caron was called to the Bar of England and Wales and named a member of 20 Essex Street, a leading set of commercial barristers’ chambers in London. On behalf of individual, corporate, and governmental clients worldwide, the chambers’ members advise and appear as advocates in court or arbitration in wide-ranging commercial, European Union, competition, human rights, and public international law disputes.

At Berkeley Law, Caron co-directs the Law of the Sea Institute—an international consortium of scholars that has played a major part in the study of ocean law since the 1970s—and was recently named faculty co-director of the Miller Institute for Global Challenges and the Law. He teaches public international law, resolution of private international disputes, ocean law and policy, and an advanced international law writing workshop.

Caron, ASIL's first president from a school not on the east coast, will push the organization to achieve “a greater presence around the country rather than a solely Washington focus,” and says his first initiative is to move this fall’s executive council meeting from Washington to Miami. “Each state faces particular issues turning on international law, and each has federal and state judges that will confront cases that raise and turn on questions of international law,” says Caron. “It is my experience speaking, for example, to Rotary Clubs, that Americans simply want to know the relevant facts and choices before the nation.”

On March 22, two days before the start of ASIL’s annual meeting, Caron gave the Transnational Law Institute Distinguished Lecture for spring 2010 at Washington and Lee University School of Law in Lexington, Virginia. His lecture, entitled “Why International Courts and Tribunals Look and Act Like They Do,” offered a political lens to explain the strategic relationships that drive the actions of courts and tribunals. Mark Drumbl, director of Washington and Lee’s Transnational Law Institute, called Caron’s publications “many in number, stunning in quality, and greatly influential.”