Prof. Stefan A. Riesenfeld

The Stefan A. Riesenfeld Memorial Award

Each year, BJIL presents the keynote speaker with the Stefan A. Riesenfeld Memorial Award, traditionally given to a distinguished scholar or practitioner who has made outstanding contributions to the field of international law. The purpose of the award is to honor the memory of Professor Riesenfeld, who devoted much of his life and career to the study and practice of international law, and to recognize a recipient who has demonstrated a commitment to the values and ideas that Professor Riesenfeld espoused and advocated.


Stefan Albrecht Riesenfeld

Professor Stefan Albrecht Riesenfeld was born on June 8, 1908 in Breslau, Germany. He studied at the University of Breslau (now University of Wroclaw, Poland), and received a Dr. Iur. summa cum laude in 1930 for his dissertation on the law of mutual insurance companies. Professor Riesenfeld then practiced with a Berlin commercial firm, and became a research associate of the Kaiser-Wilhelm Institute, founded by Ernst Rabel, his mentor who later escaped the Nazi regime by coming to teach at the University of Michigan.

Professor Riesenfeld himself escaped Nazi Germany in 1934 at the age of twenty-six and came to Berkeley Law to work as a researcher of comparative law for the then-Dean Edwin Dickinson. Speaking little English on his arrival, he nevertheless managed to graduate from Berkeley Law in 1937 with distinction, and to earn a J.S.D from Harvard in 1940. Professor Riesenfeld began his academic career at the University of Minnesota, simultaneously teaching law and earning an undergraduate degree in engineering, but he soon voluntarily enlisted in the U.S. Navy during World War II, and he served as an LST commander in the South Pacific, returning to his teaching post in Minnesota in 1946.

In 1952, Professor Riesenfeld joined the Berkeley Law faculty, where he remained until 1976 when school regulations required him to retire. Nevertheless, Professor Riesenfeld received continuous annual re-appointments at the Law School until his death on February 17, 1999 at the age of ninety. During his academic career, he wrote numerous books and articles on a wide range of international law topics, including maritime law, trade and development law, the European Economic Community, treaty law, and labor law. He also served as Counselor for Public International Law at the U.S. Department of State, and was twice engaged to argue major cases before the International Court of Justice in the Hague. Professor Riesenfeld’s public interests ranged from reform proposals of the German Civil Code during the Weimar Republic, through participation in the drafting of Germany’s Basic Law during the allied occupation, to the United States Bankruptcy Commission’s second reform effort.

Stefan A. Riesenfeld Memorial Award

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    • Stefan A. Riesenfeld Award 2000
      David D. Caron
      C. William Maxeiner Distinguished Professor, Berkeley Law
    • Stefan A. Riesenfeld Award 2001
      Yasuaki Onuma
      Professor of International Law, The University of Tokyo Graduate Schools for Law and Politics

    • Stefan A. Riesenfeld Award 2002
      The Honorable Madam Justice Louise Arbour
      UN High Commissioner for Human Rights

    • Stefan A. Riesenfeld Award 2003
      Louis Henkin
      University Professor Emeritus, Columbia Law School

    • Stefan A. Riesenfeld Award 2004
      Richard M. Buxbaum
      Jackson H. Ralston Professor of International Law (Emeritus), Berkeley Law

    • Stefan A. Riesenfeld Award 2005
      Lakhdar Brahimi
      Special Adviser to the Secretary-General
      Former Special Envoy to Afghanistan and Iraq, United Nations

    • Stefan A. Riesenfeld Award 2006
      Shirin Ebadi
      Lawyer, Human Rights Activist, and Nobel Peace Prize Laureate

    • Stefan A. Riesenfeld Award 2007
      Alejandro Jara
      Deputy Director General, World Trade Organization

    • Stefan A. Riesenfeld Award 2008
      David Weissbrodt
      Regents Professor Emeritus, Minnesota Law School

    • Stefan A. Riesenfeld Award 2009
      Phillip Alston
      John Norton Pomeroy Professor of Law, NYU Law School

    • Stefan A. Riesenfeld Award 2010
      Hon. Charles N. Brower
      Judge, Iran-United States Claims Tribunal

    • Stefan A. Riesenfeld Award 2011
      Robert C. O’Brien
      28th Assistant to the President for National Security Affairs

    • Stefan A. Riesenfeld Award 2012
      Harry N. Scheiber
      Stefan A. Riesenfeld Professor of Law and History (Emeritus)
      Chancellor’s Emeritus Professor, Berkeley Law
      Faculty Director, Institute for Legal Research

    • Stefan A. Riesenfeld Award 2013
      Dinah L. Shelton
      Manatt/Ahn Professor of International Law Emeritus, George Washington University Law School

    • Stefan A. Riesenfeld Award 2014
      Steven L. Smith
      Partner, Jones Day in San Francisco

    • Stefan A. Riesenfeld Award 2015
      Joan E. Donoghue
      President of the International Court of Justice

    • Stefan A. Riesenfeld Award 2016
      David Jeremy Wright
      Secretary General, International Organization of Securities Commissions (IOSCO)

    • Stefan A. Riesenfeld Award 2018
      Katie Redford
      Co-Founder and Director, EarthRights International

    • Stefan A. Riesenfeld Award 2019
      Iván Velásquez Gómez
      Former Commissioner, UN Commission Against Impunity in Guatemala (CICIG)

    • Stefan A. Riesenfeld Award 2020
      Guy S. Goodwin-Gill
      Professor of Law, University of New South Wales
      Emeritus Fellow of All Souls College, Oxford
      Emeritus Professor of International Refugee Law in the University of Oxford

    • Stefan A. Riesenfeld Award 2021
      Nani Jansen Reventlow
      Lecturer, Columbia Law School
      Founding Director of the Digital Freedom Fund

    • Stefan A. Riesenfeld Award 2022
      Margrethe Vestager
      European Commissioner for Competition and
      Executive Vice President, European Commission for A Europe Fit for the Digital Age
    • Stefan A. Riesenfeld Award 2023
      Sevgil Musaieva
      Editor-in-Chief of Ukrainska Pravda