University Professor Emeritus Louis Henkin taught an array of subjects at Columbia Law School, including constitutional law, international law, diplomacy, international and comparative human rights, and foreign relations. He was also faculty at the School of International and Public Affairs and the Graduate School of the Arts and Sciences, Hamilton Fish Professor of International Law and Diplomacy, and a Harlan Fiske Stone Professor of Constitutional Law.
Henkin served with the Department of State from 1948 to 1956 in the United Nations Bureau and in the Office of European Regional Affairs, and represented the U.S. in delegations to international conferences. Henkin was chairman of the board of directors for the Columbia University Center for the Study of Human Rights and the founding chair and director of the Law School's Institute of Human Rights. The Law School awarded him the Medal for Excellence in 1989. A year later, the Louis Henkin Professorship in Human and Constitutional Rights was established.
Henkin served as a U.S. member of the Permanent Court of Arbitration and as a member of the Advisory Committee on International Law at the Department of State. He was president of the American Society of International Law, co-editor-in-chief of the American Journal of International Law and chief reporter of the Restatement of the Foreign Relations Law of the United States. He was a fellow of the American Academy of Arts & Sciences and a member of the board of directors of Human Rights First.
His numerous publications include Foreign Affairs and the U.S. Constitution, 1996, Human Rights (co-editor with D. Leebron, G. L. Neuman, and D. Orentlicher), 1999, and International Law: Cases and Materials (co-editor), 2001.
He received a LL.B. from Harvard University, a L.H.D. and B.A. from Yeshiva University, a LL.D. from Columbia Law School, and an honorary J.D. from Brooklyn Law School. He served as clerk to Judge Learned Hand and to Justice Felix Frankfurter, and was awarded a Silver Star for service in the U.S. Army during World War II.
Columbia Law School deeply mourned his passing in 2010.