By Otto Spijkers
I was extremely saddened to hear this morning of the passing of Thom Franck. He was one of my professors when I was an exchange student at New York University’s School of Law a few years ago. At that time, Franck was the instructor of two seminars, one on the Constitutional Law of the United Nations, and the other on Recourse to Force in International Law. I was at NYU when the war in Iraq had just started. At that time, students were not so enthusiastic about the United Nations and fundamentally questioned the Organization’s influence on international affairs. Franck sort of kept hope alive. I remember vividly that once, when various students were expressing their disappointment in international law and the United Nations during a seminar session on the use of force, Franck suddenly stood up and started this passionate speech about the power of international law’s principles. He may not have convinced all the students, but it was an impressive performance. Anyways, he taught me all about the law of the United Nations (I am now writing a dissertation about this subject), and he was one of my favorite teachers. It was only last December when I saw him in person. He was one of the speakers at a conference, which took place in the Peace Palace, on the influence of the United Nations on the evolution of global values. His influence on international law, both scholarship and practice, was substantial. He will be missed.
The NYU Law Review published a tribute to Thomas Franck. See volume 84 (2009), no. 6. One of the articles is called “The Invisible College of Thomas Franck,” which reminds one of the title of our blog.