In Honor of W. Michael Reisman

January 14, 2011

Reisman Festschrift Arrives

In the waning days of 2010, the festschrift of Professor W. Michael Reisman, Myres S. McDougal Professor of International Law at Yale Law School,  was published and became a notable addition to the Yale Law Library collection. Looking to the Future: Essays on International Law in Honor of W. Michael Reisman, edited by Mahnoush H. Arsanjani, Jacob Katz Cogan, Robert D. Sloane, and Siegfried Wiessner (Leiden: Nijhoff: 2011) is a monumental introduction of some 1100 pages to the distinguished career of Professor Reisman who became a professor in the Yale Law School in 1969 after working at Yale with Professors Myres S. McDougal and Harold D. Lasswell and earning his LL.M. (1964) and J.S.D.(1965).

The editorial introduction briefly describes Professor Reisman’s educational background and lays out how his writings (26 books, 248 articles, and myriad book reviews) has developed the New Haven School, or policy-oriented jurisprudence, established by his mentors. (See, W. Michael Reisman, Siegfried Wiessner, and Andrew R. Willard, The New Haven School: A Brief Introduction,  32 YALE J. INT’L L. 575 (2007) ).

The introduction takes pains to emphasize that the Professor Reisman is not only a scholar, but also very much a practitioner, serving as an arbitrator, as a member and later Chair of the Inter-American Commissioner of Human Rights, as an expert witness, and as an advocate before several international tribunals.

The introduction also provides other salient and very useful information. It informs us that Professor Reisman writes fiction, “the occasional novel or collection of short stories,” e.g., the novel, Spiritual Exercise, under the pseudonym Deborah Shai (Frederick, MD:PublishAmerica, 2004).  The introduction points us to Professor Reisman’s singular work on microlegal systems, Law in Brief Encounters. Finally, it promises that Professor Reisman’s 2007 lectures on public international law will be soon published under the title International Law in the 21st Century: The Quest for World Order and Human Dignity and announces his latest book, Stopping Wars and Making Peace: Studies in International Intervention co-authored with Kristen Eichensehr (Leiden: Nijhoff, 2009).

The festschrift consists of 52 essays written by the world’s leading scholars of international law, many of whom are Professor Reisman’s students. The essays are divided into six parts: W. Michael Reisman, the Man; Theory about Making and Applying Law; Making and Applying Human Rights Law; Making and Applying Investment and Trade Law; Making and Applying Law for the Resources of the Planet, Making and Applying Law to the Use of Force; and Making and Applying Law by International Tribunals. I think all the authors would agree with  the statement of Roslyn Higgins, former President of the International Court of Justice, “It is clear that we all regard Michael Reisman as a phenomenon.”

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