Faculty Spotlight: Professor Rebecca Hamilton

Image Caption

Congratulations to Professor Rebecca Hamilton, who was elected as a Life Member to the Council on Foreign Relations. She joins prominent leaders in foreign policy, government officials, renowned scholars and more in this prestigious membership. We interviewed Professor Hamilton on her service to the field of international relations and on her insight on recent developments in international law.

Last year you were awarded a prestigious International Affairs Fellowship by the Council on Foreign Relations. Tell us about what you learned.

As a naturalized citizen it was my first chance to actually serve in the U.S. government, and so it was personally very meaningful for me. I met extraordinarily dedicated civil servants and gained a much more granular appreciation for the day to day process of policy making and the role of law in the national security space. 

You are also an elected member of the Executive Council of the American Society of International Law (ASIL). What is ASIL and how does it contribute to the knowledge of international law? 

 ASIL has a long tradition of supporting the development of international law in the U.S. and around the world. Last year the keynote lecture in its Annual Meeting was given by James Gathii, who catalyzed a vital conversation about the role of racial subordination and colonialism in the development and maintenance of international law. In addition to spurring these big picture conversations, ASIL works year round to provide concrete support to academics, practitioners and, most importantly from my perspective, students. For example, students who aspire to work in international law can attend ASIL’s upcoming Annual Meeting for free, and engage in mentoring and networking events designed with them in mind. 

Do you have specific projects that you do with ASIL? 

I’m about to embark on an outreach project to highlight the relevance of international law to the general public. Those of us inside academia or international institutions too readily take the value of international law for granted because we work with it on a daily basis. But it is incumbent upon us to make the case for the value of international law in a way that is not simply “preaching to the choir.” When the rule of law and the international institutions come under attack, as has recently been the case, it is an important reminder that international law needs public support to succeed  - and at the end of the day that means making the case to the general public that international law has a positive impact in their lives.