A distinguished scholar and longtime champion of human rights, David Weissbrodt ’69 returns to Boalt this week to accept the Stefan A. Riesenfeld Memorial Award for outstanding contributions to international law. He will receive the honor on Friday, March 14, at the eighth annual Riesenfeld Symposium.
The award is presented each year by the International and Comparative Law Faculty and the Berkeley Journal of International Law’s Board of Editors. It honors the memory of Riesenfeld ‘37, who devoted much of his life to the study and practice of international law, and recognizes a recipient who has shown commitment to the values and ideas he espoused. Riesenfeld taught at Boalt for 46 years, wrote or edited 32 books, and served as a legal advisor in the Panama Canal treaty negotiations, the recognition of Taiwan, and the Iran hostage case.
"I am deeply honored to have my name associated with Professor Riesenfeld," says Weissbrodt, who attended his property classes while a student at Boalt. "I am also pleased to be associated with professors (Richard) Buxbaum and (David) Caron, who have previously won this award."
From 1996 to 2003, Weissbrodt was a member of the United Nations Sub-Commission on the Promotion and Protection of Human Rights. Elected chair of the sub-commission in 2001, he became the first U.S. citizen since Eleanor Roosevelt to head a U.N. human rights body. Weissbrodt has also served as an officer or board member of Amnesty International, the Center for Victims of Torture, the Minnesota Advocates for Human Rights, Readers International, and the International League for Human Rights.
A faculty member at the University of Minnesota Law School since 1975, Weissbrodt is founder and co-director of the school’s Human Rights Center. He teaches international human rights law, administrative law, immigration law, and torts. At Boalt, Weissbrodt was a Note and Comment Editor of the California Law Review and a member of the Order of the Coif.
With the alarming rise in conflicts around the world, he says "current world developments demonstrate the importance of international law in recognizing that the greater the power of states and non-state actors, the greater should be their responsibilities to protect human rights."
The Riesenfeld Symposium, which begins at 1 p.m. on March 14 in Room 105, will explore the potential of multinational corporations to advance human rights practices globally—and how the legal profession can enhance that potential. Weissbrodt will deliver the symposium’s keynote address at 4:30 p.m., and will then receive his award at 5:30 p.m. during a reception in the Boalt Hall Donor Lobby.