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In memoriam: Ian Brownlie

According to a report by Kevin Jon Heller on Opinio Juris, the well known international legal scholar and practitioner Professor Sir Ian Brownlie, CBE, QC, FBA died in a car accident in Egypt. No other reports of this tragic incident have been published yet.

Sir Ian Brownlie was international Chichele Professor of Public International Law (after 1999 as Emeritus) at the University of Oxford and a Fellow of the All Souls College. Over the years he helped shape public international law through numerous notable publications and practical achievements. Most famous among his publications is perhaps the ‘Principles of Public International Law’, which first came out in 1966 and was published in its 7th edition in 2008, and which – rightly – has been called ‘[t]he most well established and authoritative textbook on international law on the market.’ Sir Ian Brownlie was a practicing barrister since the mid 1960s and appeared before numerous international tribunals, including the International Court of Justice, the European Court of Human Rights and the European Court of Justice.  Until his resignation in 2008 he was a member of the International Law Commission, which he chaired since 2007 and where he inter alia functioned as special rapporteur on the effects of armed conflict on treaties, producing 4 reports between 2005-2008. Moreover, Sir Ian Brownlie was a Fellow of the British Academy, a member of the International Law Association and of the Institut de Droit International.


  1. asdf asdf 5 January 2010

    The article was taken off Opinio Juris following a comment from associates of Prof. Brownlie, requesting that the matter be kept confidential till his family could be informed. We should perhaps wait for official confirmation.

  2. Dabiru Sridhar Patnaik Dabiru Sridhar Patnaik 6 January 2010

    Sir Ian Brownlie’s death is tragic and deeply saddening. His untimely demise has deprived the world of international law a truly great scholar. Ian is a legend in international law and formidable impact of his scholarship will endure many generations in international law.

  3. mohit gupta mohit gupta 7 January 2010

    Prof of the law of nations and an amicable behaviour can never be forgotten.he was truly first impression of Intertnational law as it exist.The publication of 2008 must be studied if anybody wants to know international law now.A great loss ……

  4. Nicolas Boeglin Nicolas Boeglin 7 January 2010

    It is a great loss for the whole international law community. Sir Ian Brownlie was a truly legend in international law conferences and seminars, but also an extremely active “Crown Counsel”, with an oustanding practice and knwoledge of pleadings before the ICJ. It was always impressve to know that during the hearings before the ICJ, agents and consels of the two delegations were sometimes … former students of Ian Brownlie.
    Nicolas Boeglin
    International Law Professor
    Law Faculty
    University of Costa Rica
    nboeglin (at)

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