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By Lesley Dingle and Daniel Bates

Professor Harold Hongju Koh


  • Born: December 8, 1954, Boston, USA


  • 1975: Harvard College, Harvard University A.B. in Government, Summa Cum Laude; Phi Beta Kappa; Harvard National Scholar; Charles Bonaparte Scholar (Outstanding Junior Government Major); Harvard Club of Southern Connecticut Distinguished Senior; National Merit Scholar; State of Connecticut Scholar Honorary Degrees (17)
  • 1977: Magdalen College, Oxford University, Honours B.A. in Philosophy, Politics & Economics with First Class Honours; Marshall Scholar; Magdalen College Underhill Exhibitioner; President, Magdalen College Middle Common Room
  • 1980: Harvard Law School, J.D. cum laude; Developments Editor, Harvard Law Review; Tutor, Mather House, Harvard College
  • 1990: M.A., Yale University
  • 1996: M.A. Oxford, Philosophy Politics & Economics
  • 1998: CUNY-Queens Law School
  • 1999: Suffolk Law School; Albertus Magnus College
  • 2000: University of Connecticut; Dickinson College
  • 2001: Connecticut College
  • 2002: Skidmore College
  • 2005: University of Hartford, Widener School of Law
  • 2008: Iona College, Jewish Theological Seminary
  • 2009: New School for Social Research
  • 2010: Wayne State University; Northeastern University
  • 2012: American University School of Law
  • 2014: Quinnipiac Law School; University of Denver Sturm College of Law


  • 1978 Summer: Research Assistant to Professor Arthur R. Miller, Harvard Law School
  • 1978-79 Teaching Assistant in Contracts and Civil Procedure, Harvard Law School
  • 1979 Summer: Summer Associate, Covington & Burling, Washington, D.C.
  • 1980-81: Law Clerk to Hon. Malcolm Richard Wilkey, Circuit Judge, United States Court of Appeals, D.C. Circuit
  • 1981-82: Law Clerk to Hon. Harry A. Blackmun, Associate Justice, United States Supreme Court
  • 1982-83: Associate, Covington & Burling, Washington, DC
  • 1983-85: Attorney-Adviser, Office of Legal Counsel, United States Department of Justice
  • 1985-90: Associate Professor, Yale Law School
  • 1990-93: Professor, Yale Law School
  • 1993-2009: Gerard C. & Bernice Latrobe Smith Professor of International Law, Yale Law School
  • 1998-2001: Assistant Secretary of State for Democracy, Human Rights and Labor United States Department of State; Commissioner, Commission for Security and Cooperation in Europe; U.S. Delegate or Head of Delegation to United Nations General Assembly (Third Committee), the United Nations Human Rights Commission, the Organization of American States, the Council of Europe, the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe, the U.N. Committee Against Torture, Inaugural Community of Democracies Meeting (Warsaw 2000); U.N. Conference on New and Restored Democracies (Cotonou, Benin 2000)
  • 1998-2004: Director, Orville H. Schell Jr., Center for International Human Rights, Yale Law School
  • 2004-2009: Dean of Yale Law School & Gerard C. and Bernice Latrobe Smith Professor of International Law, Yale Law School
  • 2009-13: Legal Adviser, U.S. Department of State (on leave as Martin R. Flug ’55 Professor of International Law at Yale Law School) (awarded Secretary of State’s Distinguished Service Award 2013); Head of Delegation for U.S. Government: U.N. Human Rights Council, Assembly of States Parties International Criminal Court (Kampala 2010)
  • 2013- Sterling Professor of International Law, Yale Law School (Procedure, Public and Private International Law, Human Rights, Law and U.S. Foreign Policy, Law and National Security, Brexit and the Law, International Business Transactions, Constitution and Foreign Affairs, International Trade, International Organizations, Law of Climate Change, International Law and Political Science)

Visiting Positions

  • 1982-85 (George Washington Law School),
  • 1993 (Hague Academy of International Law)
  • 1996 (Visiting Fellow, All Souls College, and Waynflete Lecturer, Magdalen College, Oxford)
  • 2002, 1990 (Toronto)
  • 2012 (Oliver Smithies Lecturer Oxford Law Faculty)
  • 2013-4 (Columbia Law, Clarendon Law Lecturer Oxford),
  • 2014, 2017 (NYU, NYU Abu Dhabi)
  • 2016 (Hawaii)
  • 2018-19 (Phi Beta Kappa Visiting Scholar)
  • 2018-19 (Goodhart Professor of Visiting Legal Science and Fellow of Trinity College and Christ’s College, Cambridge)


  • 2000: Villanova Medal, Villanova Law School
  • 2000: Arthur J. Goldberg Award, Jacob Fuchsberg Law Center, Touro Law School
  • 2004: Presidential Medal, Central Connecticut State College
  • 2008: Western New England School of Law

Other Honours and Awards

  • 1991: Richard E. Neustadt Award, Presidency Research Section, American Political Science
  • 1992: Co-recipient, American Immigration Lawyers' Association Human Rights Award
  • 1993: Asian Law Caucus; Asian-American Legal Defense & Education Fund, Justice in Action Award
  • 1994: Cuban-American Bar Association; Political Asylum Immigration Representation Project; Asian-American Lawyers of Massachusetts; Haiti 2004; Korean-American Alliance
  • 1995: Trial Lawyer of the Year Award, Trial Lawyers for Public Justice (co-recipient)
  • 1997: Named one of nation's leading Asian-American Educators, Avenue Asia Magazine Asian-American Lawyer of the Year, Asian-American Bar Association of New York; FACE (Facts About Cuban Exiles) Excellence Award
  • 1997: “Public Sector 45" (45 leading American Public Sector Lawyers Under the Age of 45), American Lawyer Magazine
  • 2000: Institute for Korean-American Studies Liberty Award 1999;
  • 2001: Korean American Coalition Public Service Award
  • 2002: Wolfgang Friedmann Award, given by Columbia Journal of Transnational Law "to an individual who has made outstanding contributions to the field of international law"; Connecticut Bar Association Distinguished Public Service Award; John Quincy Adams Freedom Award, Amistad America
  • 2005: Louis B. Sohn Award, given by the International Law Section of the American Society of International Law for Lifetime Achievement in International Law; Equal Access to Justice Award, New Haven Legal Assistance; Allies for Justice Award ABA National Lesbian and Gay Law Association 100 Most Influential Asian Americans of the 1990s, A Magazine
  • 2006: Philip Burton Award for Advocacy, Immigrant Legal Resource Center; Boston College 75th Anniversary Celebration Law School's Distinguished Service Award Asian American Bar Association of New York Award; The Asian American Law Students Association (Pace Law School) Award of Distinction; Connecticut Super Lawyer, Connecticut Magazine (International Law)
  • 2007: Green Bag Award for “exemplary writing in a long article” Green Bag Almanac and Reader (2007)
  • 2007-08: Connecticut Bar Association Young Lawyers Section Diversity Award; Pacific Islander, Asian, and Native American (PANA) Distinguished Service Award
  • 2007, 8, 9: Lawdragon 500 Leading Lawyers in America
  • 2008: Judith Lee Stronach Human Rights Award, given for outstanding contribution to global justice by the Center for Justice and Accountability, San Francisco 7th Annual Sengbe Pieh Award, First and Summerfield United Methodist Church IRIS Human Rights Award
  • 2009: Yale Law School Medal of Merit
  • 2010: Library of Congress George Wickersham Award for Outstanding Public Service
  • 2013: Secretary of State’s Distinguished Service Award; 2013 William Green Award for Professional Excellence, University of Richmond, Law School
  • 2014: Frederick K. Cox Humanitarian Award for Advancing Global Justice, Case Western Reserve University Law School
  • 2015: Inaugural Public Service Award, Council on Korean Americans, Washington, DC
  • 2018: Honoree (with Koh Family), Immigrant Heritage Hall of Fame

Association Fellowships

  • 1996-97: Visiting Fellow, All Souls College, Oxford
  • 1996-: Twentieth Century Fund Fellow
  • 1996-97: Guggenheim Fellow
  • 2000-: Fellow, American Academy of Arts and Sciences
  • 2002-:Honorary Fellow, Magdalen College
  • 2006-: James Cooper Lifetime Fellow, Connecticut Bar Association
  • 2007: Fellow, American Philosophical Society
  • 2013-: Fellow, Jonathan Edwards College, Yale University
  • 2013-: Honorary Member, Lincoln’s Inn, London
  • 2018: Visiting Fellow Commoner, Trinity College Cambridge
  • 2019: Fellow, Christ’s College Cambridge