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Judge Sepúlveda of International Court of Justice Speaks at Law School

On October 31, Law School students, faculty and visitors gathered for a lecture on the role of the International Court of Justice (ICJ), the principal judicial organ of the United Nations. This “broad brush of review” was delivered by one of the Court’s fifteen judges, Hon. Bernardo Sepúlveda Amor.

Sepúlveda, who has sat on the ICJ since 2006, is a Professor of International Law at El Colegio de Mexico and an associate member of the Institut de Droit International. He was Mexico’s Secretary of Foreign Relations from 1982 to 1988, served as its ambassador to Washington and to London, and was a member of the United Nations International Law Commission from 1997 to 2005. 

“Because of his distinguished career in diplomacy and foreign affairs, in academia, and now as a World Court Judge, we are very, very pleased and proud to have [Judge Sepúlveda] here,” said John J. Barceló III, the Reich Director of the Berger International Legal Studies Program, in his introduction. Sepúlveda’s lecture, presented by the Berger Program and the Briggs Society of International Law and co-sponsored by GPSAFC, touched on such areas of the World Court’s jurisdiction as the use of force, the law of the seas, individual rights, and environmental protection. Sepulveda also explained that more than 300 treaties  grant the ICJ authority over disputes and treaty interpretation. “As the Court’s volume of cases grows,” said Sepúlveda, “the significance of its role increases.”

Named in honor of Leo Berger J.D. '56 and his wife, Arvilla, the Berger International Legal Studies Program sponsors a varied and indispensable array of activities that provide Cornell Law students with legal training and skills of global relevance. The Berger Program has built links to law schools throughout Europe (for example, in France, Germany, Hungary, Italy, the Netherlands, Spain, and the U.K.) and in Australia. Other programs at the Law School have been active in Africa, East Asia and the Middle East. The Briggs Society of International Law, a student-run organization, was named in honor of one of Cornell's best-known public international law teachers and scholars. In cooperation with the Berger Program, the Briggs Society sponsors a number of field trips and events designed to bring J.D. and LL.M. students together throughout the year.