Harold Hongju Koh

Founding Editor

Harold Hongju Koh (@haroldhongjukoh) is Sterling Professor of International Law at Yale Law School. He returned to Yale Law School in January 2013 after serving for nearly four years as the 22nd Legal Adviser of the U.S. Department of State.

Professor Koh is one of the country’s leading experts in public and private international law, national security law, and human rights. He first began teaching at Yale Law School in 1985 and served as its fifteenth Dean from 2004 until 2009. From 2009 to 2013, he took leave as the Martin R. Flug ’55 Professor of International Law to join the State Department as Legal Adviser, service for which he received the Secretary of State’s Distinguished Service Award. From 1993 to 2009, he was the Gerard C. & Bernice Latrobe Smith Professor of International Law at Yale Law School, and from 1998 to 2001, he served as U.S. Assistant Secretary of State for Democracy, Human Rights and Labor.

Professor Koh has received seventeen honorary degrees and more than thirty awards for his human rights work, including awards from Columbia Law School and the American Bar Association for his lifetime achievements in international law. He has authored or co-authored eight books, published more than 200 articles, testified regularly before Congress, and litigated numerous cases involving international law issues in both U.S. and international tribunals. He is a Fellow of the American Philosophical Society and the American Academy of Arts and Sciences, an Honorary Fellow of Magdalen College, Oxford, and a member of the Council of the American Law Institute.

He holds a B.A. degree from Harvard College and B.A. and M.A. degrees from Oxford University, where he was a Marshall Scholar. He earned his J.D. from Harvard Law School, where he was Developments Editor of the Harvard Law Review. Before coming to Yale, he served as a law clerk for Justice Harry A. Blackmun of the United States Supreme Court and Judge Malcolm Richard Wilkey of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit, worked as an attorney in private practice in Washington, and served as an Attorney-Adviser for the Office of Legal Counsel, U.S. Department of Justice. Professor Koh is also on LinkedIn.

Areas of Expertise: International Law, International Human Rights Law and Policy, Transnational Law, Foreign Relations and National Security Law, International Tribunals

Selected Media Appearances
Did President Obama betray America’s highest ideals in the name of national security? – BBC (HARDtalk)

Obama’s Former Legal Adviser Urges U.S. To ‘Disciple Drones’ – NPR (Talk of the Nation)

Senate reaches deal to speed up CR votes — Defense CEOs to Hill: Do your jobs — Iraq visa program could be budget battle casualty – Politico
Can Obama End the ‘Forever War’? – National Journal
Harold Koh’s Oxford Union speech: a Rorschach test for the war on terror – Foreign Policy

Articles by this author:

Where is the International Law We Believed In Ukraine?


Mar 14th, 2024

Past Time to Liquidate Russian Assets


Mar 5th, 2024

Finally Ending America’s Forever War, Part II: Prescription


Sep 12th, 2023

Finally Ending America’s Forever War, Part I: Diagnosis


Sep 11th, 2023

The Incapacitation of a President and the Twenty-Fifth Amendment: A Reader’s Guide

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Jan 6th, 2021

Nestlé & Cargill v. Doe Series: History and Foreign Policy Support Corporate Liability Under ATS

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Nov 20th, 2020

Oxford Statement on International Law Protections Against Foreign Electoral Interference through Digital Means

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Oct 28th, 2020

In Memory of Anthony P. Lester


Aug 11th, 2020

The Second Oxford Statement on International Law Protections of the Healthcare Sector During Covid-19: Safeguarding Vaccine Research

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Aug 11th, 2020

Is the Pardon Power Unlimited?

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Jul 11th, 2020

Trump’s Empty “Withdrawal” from the World Health Organization


May 30th, 2020

Oxford Statement on the International Law Protections Against Cyber Operations Targeting the Health Care Sector

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May 21st, 2020

Executive Privilege Cannot Block Bolton’s Testimony

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Jan 27th, 2020

A National Security Impeachment


Dec 17th, 2019

Top Expert Backgrounder: Trump’s Impeachment–What Comes Next?


Sep 30th, 2019

Jam v. International Finance Corp.: May International Organizations Violate Rights with Impunity?

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Oct 30th, 2018

Just Security Podcast: Harold Koh and Cristina Rodríguez on the Travel Ban

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Jun 29th, 2018

Trump v. Hawaii: Korematsu’s Ghost and National Security Masquerades


Jun 28th, 2018

The Real “Red Line” Behind Trump’s April 2018 Syria Strikes


Apr 16th, 2018

Trump’s So-Called Withdrawal from Paris: Far From Over

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Jun 2nd, 2017

Not Illegal: But Now The Hard Part Begins


Apr 7th, 2017

The Next Four Years: A Thanksgiving Strategy


Nov 24th, 2016

National Security Legal Advice in the New Administration


Nov 16th, 2016

“Effective” Policy in Syria: Ambassador Robert Ford’s View


Jun 21st, 2016

Pain Versus Gain


Jun 20th, 2016

Another Legal View of the Dissent Channel Cable on Syria


Jun 20th, 2016

Michael Ratner: The Leading Progressive Lawyer of a Generation


May 12th, 2016

A False Choice on Guantánamo Closure


Nov 2nd, 2015

After the NDAA Veto: Now What?


Oct 23rd, 2015

Confirm the Legal Adviser


May 18th, 2015

Sunset and Supersede: Striking the Right Balance in the AUMF against ISIL


Mar 2nd, 2015

The Torture Report is Only the First Step


Dec 12th, 2014