Professor and Dean Emeritus Claudio Grossman Named Recipient of United Nations Association of the Nations Capital’s 2020 Louis B. Sohn Award

Dec. 3, 2020

Professor and Dean Emeritus Claudio Grossman
Professor and Dean Emeritus Claudio Grossman

American University Washington College of Law congratulates Professor of Law and Dean Emeritus Claudio Grossman, the recipient of the United Nations Association of the Nations Capital’s (UNA-NCA) 2020 Louis B. Sohn Award for his outstanding work and accomplishments in human rights.

The Louis B. Sohn Award is presented to an individual who has advocated respect for international human rights as defined by the UN Charter, the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, and other international human rights treaties and instruments; championed the effective role of the UN as well as regional organizations in the promotion and protection of human rights; advocated respect for human rights as a priority in U.S. foreign and domestic policies; and elevated the role of non-governmental organizations in promoting and protecting human rights.

Grossman is the Raymond Geraldson Scholar for International and Humanitarian Law at AUWCL, where he served as dean for 21 years. Throughout his academic career, he has contributed to promoting the rule of law, human rights, and legal education in both international and domestic organizations. Professor Grossman was elected to the United Nations International Law Commission (ILC) in November 2016 for a five-year term In 2019, Professor Grossman was elected to L’Institut de Droit International (International Law Institute) and is currently a member of a special commission appointed by the institute whose purpose is to develop a draft convention on Pandemics in International Law. He previously served as member (2003-2015) and chairperson (4 terms, from 2008-2015) of the United Nations Committee against Torture (CAT) On May 20, 2013, Professor Grossman was elected chair of the UN Human Rights Treaty Bodies for a one-year term.

 Professor Grossman was a member of the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights (IACHR) from 1993-2001. He was twice elected its President, the IACHR's first Special Rapporteur on the Rights of Women (1996-2000), as well as its Special Rapporteur on the Rights of Indigenous Populations (2000-2001), Professor Grossman participated in missions to Argentina, Bolivia, Brazil, Canada, Chile, Colombia, the Dominican Republic, Guatemala, Haiti, Mexico, Panama, Paraguay, Peru, Venezuela, among others. On behalf of international and non-governmental organizations, he has also chaired or participated in missions to observe elections in Nepal, Nicaragua, Paraguay, Romania, Surinam, and the Middle East.

Professor Grossman's career also includes extensive litigation experience before the Inter-American and Universal systems on the rights of persons deprived of liberty, enforced disappearances, prohibition of non-discrimination and gender, political rights, rights of the child, indigenous populations, freedom of expression, prohibition of torture, and other fundamental freedoms. Professor Grossman was involved in a number of landmark cases establishing rights and freedoms within the Inter-American system, including Aloeboetoe et al v. SurinameVelázquez-Rodríguez v. Honduras, Myrna Mack-Chang v. Guatemala, Mayagna (Sumo) Awas Tingni v. Nicaragua , El Amparo v. Venezuela, Nicholas Chapman Blake v. Guatemala, Ivcher-Bronstein v. Peru among others. In the Committee Against Torture he proposed the adoption of General Comment 3 on Reparations, and participated in decisions including the absolute character of the prohibition against torture, the  scope of the prohibition of non-refoulement, the content of the prohibition of discrimination , the public nature of the proceedings of the committee, the strengthening of the interactive dialogue with States .  Before the International Court of Justice in The Hague, Grossman recently served as Agent for Chile in the case on  Obligation to Negotiate (Bolivia v Chile) from 2016-2018 and as Co-Agent from 2013-2016, and in 2014, as Advocate on the Case Concerning Maritime Dispute (Perú v. Chile).

Professor Grossman has received numerous distinctions for his contributions to legal education, International Law and Human Rights and is the author of multiple publications in those areas.

Grossman was presented the accolade at UNA-NCA’s 2020 Human Rights Awards ceremony, which will take place virtually on Thursday, Dec. 10, 2020 (Human Rights Day) from 4:30-6:30pm EST.

In an interview with UNA-NCA, Grossman said the pandemic has shown us the importance of positive action by States to ensuring access to health services and quality education, including health literacy.

“This requires the investment of resources and the mobilization of society as a whole,” Grossman said. “We must consider the most vulnerable – women facing domestic violence, people discriminated against for any reason, the elderly, minorities, immigrants and refugees, and people with disabilities, among others.”

When asked what actions Americans can take to advance the United Nations in respect to human rights, Grossman said there is a need for strong leadership.

“Nothing happens automatically, hard work and commitment are necessary. There is a need for the articulation of common policies and narratives to face serious challenges resulting from ideologies that reject human rights, democracy, and our common humanity.”

Read the full interview here