Institute for Corean-American Studies

Harold Hongju Koh

Harold Hongju Koh was sworn in as Assistant Secretary of State for Democracy, Human Rights and Labor on November 13, 1998. A Korean-American, he was nominated by President Clinton on September 10, 1998 and confirmed by the Senate on October 21, 1998.

As Assistant Secretary, Koh advises Secretary Albright on U.S. policy on democracy, human rights, labor, the rule of law, and religious freedom. Assistant Secretary Koh formerly served as the Gerard C. and Bernice Latrobe Smith Professor of International Law and Director of the Orville H. Schell, Jr. Center for International Human Rights at Yale Law School. Before beginning his professorship at Yale in 1985, Harold clerked for both Judge Malcolm Richard Wilkey of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the DC Circuit and Justice Harry A. Blackmun of the United States Supreme Court. He worked in private practice in Washington, DC and as an attorney at the Office of Legal Counsel at the U.S. Department of Justice.

Assistant Secretary Koh has authored more than 70 articles on international law, human rights, constitutional law, and international business transactions and trade, and is author or editor of several books on international relations, law and human rights. He is the winner of the 1991 Richard E. Neustadt Award from the American Political Science Association for the best book on the American Presidency and a 1996 Guggenheim Fellowship. Harold has received numerous honors for his human rights work, including an Honorary Doctor of Laws from City University of New York Law School, the Asian American Bar Association of New York's 1997 Outstanding Lawyer of the Year Award and recognition by American Lawyer magazine in 1997 as one of the country's 45 leading public sector lawyers under the age of 45.

Assistant Secretary Koh earned a B.A. from Harvard University in 1975, an Honours B.A. from Magdalen College, Oxford University in 1977, and a J.D. from Harvard Law School in 1980. He has been a Visiting Fellow and Lecturer at Magdalen and All Souls Colleges, Oxford University, and has taught at The Hague Academy of International Law, the University of Toronto, and the George Washington University National Law Center.

He is married to Mary-Christy Fisher, an attorney, and has two children, Emily and William.

ICAS Web Site Links for Harold Hongju Koh:

Rights to Remember
Bulletin of November 7, 2000
Promoting Human Rights in the Pursuit of Peace: Assessing 20 Years of U.S. Human Rights Policy.

This page last updated 2/2/2009 jdb

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