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Dean Harold Koh as Legal Adviser to the Department of State?

The Yale Daily News is reporting:

Yale Law School Dean Harold Hongju Koh is a leading contender to be appointed legal adviser to the Department of State, two people familiar with the selection process told the News. In that position, Koh — a former assistant secretary of state and a leading expert on international law — would serve as principal counselor on all legal matters to Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton [Yale] LAW ’73.

What can I say? He’d be great!

Last September in testimony before the Senate Judiciary Subcommittee on the Constitution, Koh concluded his remarks by noting:

Since all of us have been alive, the United States has been recognized as the world’s human rights leader. From World War II until September 11, ours was universally regarded as a nation that valued human rights and the rule of law, that spoke  out against injustice and dictatorship in other countries, and that tried to practice what we preached. Of course, we were never perfect, but we were usually thought to be sincere. Other countries would listen to what Americans had to say because we were powerful, but they thought us powerful in part because they thought us principled.

Ours is a country built on human rights.  Quite simply, our commitment to human rights and the rule of law define who we are, as a nation and a people. If this country no longer stands for these principles, we really don’t know who we are anymore.

As difficult as the last seven years have been, they loom far less important in the grand scheme of things than the next eight, which will determine whether the pendulum of U.S. policy swings back from the extreme place to which it has been pushed, or stays stuck in a “new normal” position under which our policies toward national security, law and human rights remain wholly subsumed by the “War on Terror.”  To regain our global standing, the next President and Congress must unambiguously reassert our historic commitments to human rights and the rule of law as a major source of our moral authority.

Words to live by.

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Anthony Clark Arend is Professor of Government and Foreign Service at Georgetown University and the Director of the Master of Science in Foreign Service in the Walsh School of Foreign Service.

Commentary and analysis at the intersection of international law and politics.