Lauterpacht, Sir Hersch

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LAUTERPACHT, SIR HERSCH (1897–1960), British judge of the International Court of Justice and one of the outstanding international lawyers of the 20th century. Born in Zolkiew, Galicia, Lauterpacht studied in Lvov and Vienna and in London. When he came to England in 1923 he was barely able to speak English. Nevertheless, he was appointed an assistant lecturer in law at the London School of Economics in 1927 and within five years was reader in public international law in the University of London. Lauterpacht lectured at The Hague Academy of International Law in 1930, 1934, 1937, and 1947 and from 1938 to 1955 he was professor of international law at Cambridge University. From 1955 until his death Lauterpacht was a judge of the International Court of Justice at The Hague. In this post he manifested his highly individualistic approach to international law based on the premise that moral and legal principles apply to states as much as to individuals. Lauterpacht sat in only ten cases before the court, but in eight of them he gave either a dissenting or separate opinion. He did this not so much because he objected to the views of the other judges but because he wished to clarify and develop the law rather than simply state the reasons for the court's decision. His writings reflect his preoccupation with the need to adapt international law to the international community of states. They include The Function of Law in the International Community (1933), a principal theoretical study of the international judicial function and its place in the settlement of international disputes; Recognition in International Law (1947), in which Lauterpacht argued that the recognition of one state by another state was an act of law and not of policy; International Law and Human Rights (1950) and The Development of International Law by the International Court (1958). He edited L. *Oppenheim's treatise International Law from 1935 to 1955, the British Year Book of International Law from 1944 to 1955, and the International Law Reports for nearly 40 years. Lauterpacht never abandoned the intellectual philosophy of continental law but nevertheless became the outstanding exponent of the common law tradition in international law. Lauterpacht was the recipient of numerous awards and was knighted in 1956. He was active in Jewish affairs from his youth when he joined the Jewish defense organization in Galicia and was first president of the World Union of Jewish Students after World War i. A staunch Zionist, he spent several months in Israel shortly before his death. His son Sir elihu lauterpacht (1928– ), also a distinguished barrister and legal scholar, was reader in international law at Cambridge University (1980–88) and director of the Research Centre for International Law at Cambridge from 1983 to 1995.


C.W. Jenks, in: British Year Book of International Law, 36 (1961), 1–103; G. Fitzmaurice, ibid., 37 (1962), 1–71; 38 (1964), 1–83; 39 (1965), 133–88; S. Rosenne, in: American Journal of International Law, 55 (1961), 825–62, index. add. bibliography: odnb online; D. Stone, "Sir Hersch Lauterpacht: Teacher, Writer, and Judge," in: jhset, 18 (1981–82), 20–38.

[Israel Finestein]

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Lauterpacht, Sir Hersch

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