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Annan pays tribute to leading international law scholar Thomas Franck

Annan pays tribute to leading international law scholar Thomas Franck

The United Nations Secretary-General, Kofi Annan, this evening paid tribute to Professor Thomas Franck, a leading international law expert who was honoured at a dinner marking his retirement from regular to emeritus professor at New York University.

"I know of no one who has been more creative in approaching this subject, and no one who has been a more valued friend and supporter of the United Nations," said Mr. Annan. Professor Franck, he added, "has always striven to respect and preserve the life in legal instruments, starting with the United Nations Charter, rather than let them become dry and lifeless."

Calling the scholar a friend and invaluable adviser, the Secretary-General shared excerpts from a letter written by Professor Franck when the Security Council was debating Washington's demand for immunity for United States citizens from prosecution by the International Criminal Court.

"Fortunately, Congress already has before it legislation authorizing the President to use all necessary force to rescue me were I to be hauled before the International Criminal Court for crimes against humanity," the letter states. "But what's so special about genocide, that I should be protected only for those sorts of things? What about other crimes I choose to commit abroad? A little mail fraud? Some violations of anti-trust? As a citizen of the world's only superpower I want my government to offer me full protection from foreign laws, whether against passing bad cheques or endangering the morals of a minor. Americans, wherever we are, should be under American law."

Voicing relief that Professor Franck, instead of leaving academic life, is moving to the emeritus faculty, the Secretary-General expressed confidence that in the years to come, the UN would benefit even more from his insight, wisdom and sense of humour.

Professor Franck has written widely on the subject of fairness in international law, particularly the role of the UN as a source of global legitimacy. He has also been active in cases before the International Court of Justice.