Professor Bernard Oxman Receives Prestigious International Law Medal from ASIL


Prof. Bernard Oxman

Professor Bernard Oxman

The American Society of International Law announced the 2021 Manley O. Hudson Medal to Professor Bernard H. Oxman, presented annually to "a distinguished person of American or other nationality for outstanding contributions to scholarship and achievement in international law."

The mission of ASIL is to foster the study of international law and promote the establishment and maintenance of international relations based on law and justice. According to ASIL, Oxman is a global leader in forging, strengthening, and teaching the law of the sea and its application in the peaceful settlement of disputes.

“This well-deserved award recognizes Professor Oxman for qualities and attributes that members of the University of Miami School of Law community have benefited from for many years: his deep knowledge and nuanced understanding of international (and domestic) law and sensitivity to the intricacies of legal process are unparalleled. It is an honor to have him as a colleague,” said Professor Caroline Caroline M. Bradley, dean's distinguished scholar and associate dean for international and graduate programs.

Oxman, the Richard A. Hausler Professor of Law at Miami Law, teaches conflict of laws, international law, law of the sea, and torts. He served as associate dean of the law school from 1987 to 1990, served on the university's faculty senate from 1996 to 2017, and currently is the faculty chair of the law school's Master of Laws Program in Maritime Law.

The group of scholars who nominated Oxman described him as "among the most distinguished international lawyers of his generation. Like Manley Hudson, Bernie has contributed to international law in many roles – as a scholar, government legal adviser, and international judge, among other positions – and in all of them, his contribution has been distinguished."

As assistant legal adviser in the U.S. Department of State (1968-1977), U.S. representative and vice-chair of the U.S. delegation to the Third U.N. Conference on the Law of the Sea (1973-1982), and chair of the conference's English drafting committee, he played a significant role in the negotiation of the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea and especially in the crafting of its path-breaking dispute settlement procedure.

According to ASIL, Oxman stands at the top of the field today, for more than half a century of contributions to the law of the sea and international dispute settlement.

He has taught international law at Miami Law since 1977 and has lectured at many other U.S. and foreign universities. He has been elected a titular member of the Institut de Droit International, where Oxman commands great respect.

He has published widely and authoritatively on a spectrum of international law subjects. Especially noteworthy is Oxman's service as an international judge ad hoc in multiple cases: he is, to our knowledge, the only U.S. national to have served as a judge ad hoc of both the International Court of Justice and the International Tribunal for the Law of the Sea, according to ASIL. In that capacity, he effected a significant change in the often-maligned role of judges ad hoc, who, with some brave exceptions, were generally assumed to fulfill the role by restating (if need be in dissent) the arguments of the party that appointed them.

As ad hoc judge in Land Reclamation, a case before ITLOS, Oxman broke that tradition and established a new pattern: at the provisional measures phase in 2003, he had both of the ad hoc judges issue a joint declaration in support of the tribunal's unanimous order. Similarly, he and his fellow International Tribunal for Law of the Sea judge ad hoc submitted a joint declaration in support of the tribunal's 2012 judgment in Bay of Bengal.

And he and his fellow judge ad hoc of the ICJ in the 2009 case of Maritime Delimitation in the Black Sea subscribed to the court's unanimous judgment on the merits. In doing so, he has ennobled and provided new meaning to the role of the ad hoc judge in public international law.

Oxman has served ASIL in many matters, including as the co-editor in chief of the American Journal of International Law from 2003 to 2013, as a vice president from 2007 to 2009, and as a patron.

The American Journal of International Law awarded the Journal's Francis Deák Prize for scholarship in 1978 to Oxman for his series of articles on the law of the sea negotiations. He has also served on the Journal's Board of Editors since 1986 and continues as a regular contributor to the Journal's pages, most recently in the April 2020 issue.

“For most of my professional career I have been a member and officer of the American Society of International Law, and a contributor to and editor of its flagship publication, the American Journal of International Law,” said Oxman. “The service was its own reward. In all of that time it never occurred to me that I might someday join such illustrious predecessors as the recipient of the Society’s highest honor. I am deeply grateful.”

Read about Miami Law’s Maritime Law Program