Riesenfeld Symposium


Every Spring, BJIL hosts the Stefan A. Riesenfeld Symposium at the University of California, Berkeley School of Law and presents the keynote speaker with the honored Stefan A. Riesenfeld Memorial Award.

The Stefan A Riesenfeld Memorial Award

Each year, BJIL presents the keynote speaker with the Stefan A. Riesenfeld Memorial Award, traditionally given to a distinguished scholar or practitioner who has made outstanding contributions to the field of international law. The purpose of the Award is to honor the memory of Professor Riesenfeld, who devoted much of his life and career to the study and practice of international law, and to recognize a recipient who has demonstrated a commitment to the values and ideas that Professor Riesenfeld espoused and advocated.

Stefan Albrecht Riesenfeld

Professor Stefan Albrecht Riesenfeld was born on June 8, 1908 in Breslau, Germany. He studied at the University of Breslau, now University of Wroclaw, Poland, and received a Dr. Iur. summa cum laude in 1930 for his dissertation on the law of mutual insurance companies. Professor Riesenfeld then practiced with a Berlin commercial firm, and became a research associate of the Kaiser-Wilhelm Institute, founded by Ernst Rabel, Professor Riesenfeld's mentor who later escaped the Nazi regime by coming to teach at the University of Michigan.

Professor Riesenfeld himself escaped Nazi Germany in 1934 at the age of twenty-six and came to Boalt Hall to work as a researcher of comparative law for the then-Dean Edwin Dickinson. Speaking little English on his arrival, Professor Riesenfeld nevertheless managed to graduate from Boalt Hall in 1937 with distinction, and to earn a J.S.D from Harvard in 1940. Professor Riesenfeld began his academic career at the University of Minnesota, simultaneously teaching law and earning an undergraduate degree in engineering, but he soon voluntarily enlisted in the U.S. Navy during World War II, and he served as an LST commander in the South Pacific, returning to his teaching post in Minnesota in 1946.

In 1952, Professor Riesenfeld joined the Boalt faculty, where he remained until 1976 when school regulations required him to retire. Nevertheless, Professor Riesenfeld received continuous annual re-appointments at Boalt Hall until his death on February 17, 1999 at the age of ninety. During his academic career, Professor Riesenfeld wrote numerous books and articles on a wide range of international law topics, including maritime law, trade and developmnent law, the European Economic Community, treaty law, and labor law. He also served as Counselor for Public International Law at the U.S. Department of State, and was twice engaged to argue major cases before the International Court of Justice in the Hague. Professor Riesenfeld's public interests ranged from reform proposals of the German Civil Code during the Weimar Republic, through participation in the drafting of Germany's Basic Law during the allied occupation, to the United States Bankruptcy Commission's second reform effort.

Browse the contents of Riesenfeld Symposium:

2015 - Conflict Now: The Role of International Courts?
2014 - Who's Watching? Global Perspectives on Privacy
2013 - Beyond the Rankings: Measuring Governance and the Rule of Law
2012 - Enforcement of Foreign Judgments
2011 - Justice Under Construction: Contemporary Initiatives and the Future of Efforts to Form and Reform Justice Systems
2010 - Advancing Arbitration: Modern Trends in International Arbitration & the Case for California
2009 - Beyond the Bush Era: International Human Rights Law Looking Forward
2008 - Realizing the Potential: Global Corporations and Human Rights
2007 - The WTO & International Trade Law After Doha: Where do we go from here?
2004 - States in Transition: How International Law Treats Transfers of Authority
2003 - International Money Laundering: From Latin America to Asia, Who Pays?
2002 - Crimes Against Women Under International Law
2001 - Fifty Years in the Making: World War II Reparation and Restitution Claims