Saturday, May 23, 2009

Biographical Tidbit

I knew of Judge Thomas Buergenthal as the American member of the ICJ and the only dissenter to the ICJ's ruling that Israel's security barrier violated international law. Judge Buergenthal's argument was predicated on the fact that the court did not have the requisite factual record before it to determine whether Israel's legitimate security considerations warranted the building of the barrier (he did not say they necessarily did, only that without critical absent facts it was impossible to make a determination on that crucial issue); hence, he believed the court should have declined its discretionary jurisdiction. I remember when reading the original opinion how annoyed I was at the degree to which it brushed aside these concerns, and I was pleased at least one judge had the temerity to stand up and call it out. (Incidentally, for an opinion concurring in the judgment that I nonetheless found illuminating at the time and today, see the separate opinion of Judge Higgins).

In any event, I knew that. I did not know that Judge Buergenthal was also a Holocaust survivor. I imagine that experience is one that informs his jurisprudence -- I can't imagine it didn't in the ICJ separation barrier case.

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