Harold Hongju Koh

Most Influential Person

American lawyer

Why Is Harold Hongju Koh Influential?

Harold Hongju Koh is a Sterling Professor of International Law at Yale University. He earned a B.A. from Harvard University, an M.A. from Magdalen College, Oxford, before returning to Harvard University to earn a J.D.. His childhood was spent living under Japanese colonial rule in an area that is now a part of North Korea. They endured great hardship and political turmoil before they made their way to the United States.

His highly respected career has included roles as Assistant Secretary of State for Democracy, Human Rights and Labor (under President Bill Clinton), Dean of Yale Law School, and Legal Advisor to President Barack Obama’s State Department.

In 1990, he wrote a brief in condemnation of President George H.W. Bush’s decision to authorize the first Gulf War without Congress. He has voiced support for the use of targeted unmanned drone strikes to eliminate terrorist targets, based on three criteria: the immediacy of the threat, the strategic value to a clean, expedient elimination of a target and the sovereignty of other nations involved. He has also asserted that principles of liberty and equality are not singularly American values, but they are instead the universal goal of human rights around the world.

Academic Website

According to Wikipedia, Harold Hongju Koh is an American lawyer and legal scholar who served as the legal adviser of the Department of State in the Obama administration. He was nominated to this position by President Barack Obama on March 23, 2009, and confirmed by the Senate on June 25, 2009. He left the State Department in January 2013, returning to Yale University as a Sterling Professor of international law. He was elected to the American Philosophical Society in 2007.

Harold Hongju Koh's Published Works

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