Harold Hongju Koh Receives Robert A. Katzmann Award

Harold Hongju Koh giving an acceptance speech
Professor Harold Hongju Koh received an award recognizing his “exceptional contributions to legal education and leadership within academic institutions.”

Sterling Professor of Law Harold Hongju Koh received the Honorable Robert A. Katzmann Award for Academic Excellence on May 20 at the Library of Congress. 

Harold Hongju Koh and Gary Katzmann ’79
Professor Harold Hongju Koh and Judge Gary Katzmann ’79

The award recognizes Koh’s “exceptional contributions to legal education and leadership within academic institutions,” according to the announcement. 

“Dean Koh’s great career embodies a profound commitment to academic excellence and public service, and he is unfailingly concerned with the well-being of others. His life reflects the values that Judge Katzmann held dear, and he is a most worthy recipient of this extraordinary honor,” said William Treanor ’85, Dean of Georgetown Law and the inaugural recipient of the award.

Tributes to Koh were also given by Sterling Professor Emeritus of Law Guido Calabresi ’58 and Sen. Chris Coons ’92. 

The award honors the life and work of Judge Robert A. Katzmann ’80 and is presented annually to a law school dean or professor by the Burton Awards program, which just celebrated its 25th anniversary.

Harold Hongju Koh and Sen. Chris Coons ’92
Professor Koh and Sen. Chris Coons ’92

Koh is the Sterling Professor of International Law at Yale Law School, where he has taught since 1985, and served as Dean from 2004­–09. He is one of the nation’s leading experts in public and private international law, national security law, and human rights. From 2009–13, he served as the 22nd Legal Adviser of the U.S. Department of State in the Obama Administration. In 2021, at the start of the Biden Administration, he returned to the Office of the Legal Adviser as Senior Adviser, the senior political appointee in that office. 

Koh is the author of many books and articles, most recently The National Security Constitution in the 21st Century (forthcoming, Yale University Press 2024), which Harvard Law School Professor Laurence Tribe has called “quite simply the best ever written about its daunting subject,” the national security and foreign relations law of the United States. He has been awarded numerous awards for his human rights work, including most recently the 2023 Raphael Lemkin Rule of Law Guardian Medal from Duke Law School.