Professor of Law; Dean Emeritus; Raymond I. Geraldson Scholar for International and Humanitarian Law
Area of Expertise:
International law and comparative law; human rights; Inter-American Human Rights System; United Nations; regional human rights agreements; Latin American relations; international human rights organizations
Claudio Grossman is Professor of Law, Dean Emeritus, and the Raymond Geraldson Scholar for International and Humanitarian Law at American University Washington College of Law (WCL). Professor Grossman served as WCL dean from 1995-July 2016, at which time he decided to return to the faculty. He was appointed Dean Emeritus by American University's (AU) Board of Trustees in recognition of over two decades of commitment, dedication and distinction.
During Professor Grossman's 21-year tenure as dean, WCL further developed its intellectual creativity, pursuing numerous and exciting initiatives. More than 50 full-time faculty members were hired, dramatically improving the law school's student-faculty ratio and expanding and enhancing scholarship, teaching and service. A variety of WCL programs were developed during Professor Grossman's deanship including: dual JD Programs with universities in Canada, France, Australia, Spain and Italy, the LL.M. in Law and Government Program, the L.L.M. in Advocacy, the LLM in Intellectual Property, the Supervised Externship Program, the S.J.D. Program, a dual LL.M./MBA, LL.M. specializations in Gender and the Law and in Free Trade Agreements and Regional Integration, Online Education, and specialized summer programs in human rights and humanitarian law, international commercial arbitration, anti-corruption, health law, intellectual property, law and government, international organizations, law and diplomacy, environmental law, legal English, and legal Spanish. Also during his leadership as dean, WCL developed and expanded summer abroad programs in Europe, Asia, and Latin America, numerous semester abroad programs, the International Commercial Arbitration Center, the Intellectual Property (IP) Program, clinics in IP, Disability Rights Law, Immigrant Justice and an evening section of the General Practice Clinic, and integrated sections in the first year so as to promote interconnectedness among the different law courses.
During Professor Grossman's tenure as dean, WCL achieved recognition as among the top 10 nationally in clinical legal education, intellectual property, international law, and trial advocacy, in addition to being one of the most diverse law schools in the country. With his leadership, WCL also designed and completed its magnificent new Tenley Campus, a state-of-the-art law school building just one block from the metro, connecting the law school's community to the nation's capital and its many professional opportunities. The law school's official ribbon-cutting ceremony in February 2016 featured luminaries including U.S. Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg, AU President Neil Kerwin, DC Mayor Muriel Bowser, World Bank President Dr. Jim Yong Kim, the UN Under-Secretary-General for Legal Affairs, Mr. Miguel de Serpa Soares, distinguished alumni and members of the AU Board of Trustees, and attracted over 2,000 alumni worldwide to WCL's Tenley campus.
Throughout his academic career, Professor Grossman has contributed to promoting the rule of law, human rights and legal education in both international and domestic organizations. Professor Grossman was elected to the United Nations International Law Commission (ILC) in November 2016 for a five-year term and in 2019 Chair of the ILC’s Drafting Committee. In 2019, Professor Grossman was elected to L’Institut de Droit International (International Law Institute) in its session in the Hague. He previously served as member (2003-2015) and chairperson (4 terms, from 2008-2015) of the United Nations Committee against Torture (CAT) On May 20, 2013, Professor Grossman was elected chair of the UN Human Rights Treaty Bodies for a one-year term. In May 2009, he was named to the judging panel for the Robert F. Kennedy Human Rights Award by the Robert F. Kennedy Center for Justice & Human Rights, and in May 2010 he was appointed to the Center's Board of Directors. Professor Grossman served on the governing board for the International Association of Law Schools since 2008 and was reelected in 2010 for a three-year term. On January 1, 2014, Professor Grossman began serving as President of the Inter-American Institute of Human Rights, following three years on its Board of Directors. He is also a member of numerous associations, including the American Law Institute.
Professor Grossman previously served as President of the College of the Americas (COLAM), an organization of approximately 400 colleges and universities in the Western Hemisphere (2003- 2007). He also served as Chair of the Committee on International Cooperation of the Association of American Law Schools (2005- 2009) and as a member of the Commission for the Control of Interpol's Files (2005- 2011). In addition, he was a member of the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights (IACHR) from 1993-2001. He was twice elected its President, first in 1996 and again in 2001. He was the IACHR's first Special Rapporteur on the Rights of Women (1996-2000), as well as its Special Rapporteur on the Rights of Indigenous Populations (2000-2001) and the IACHR’s observer of the AMIA Trial (2001-2005). Representing the IACHR, Professor Grossman participated in missions to Argentina, Bolivia, Brazil, Canada, Chile, Colombia, the Dominican Republic, Guatemala, Haiti, Mexico, Panama, Paraguay, Peru, Venezuela, among others. On behalf of international and non-governmental organizations, he has also chaired or participated in missions to observe elections in Nepal, Nicaragua, Paraguay, Romania, Surinam, and the Middle East.
Professor Grossman was recognized as one of the top 25 most influential people in legal education on the last years of his service as a Dean He has also received numerous awards for his work in human rights and international law, including the Harry LeRoy Jones Award from the Washington Foreign Law Society and the René Cassin Award from B'nai B'rith International in Chile. In October 2000, Professor Grossman was named Outstanding Dean of the Year by the National Association of Public Interest Law (now known as Equal Justice Works). In addition, the Inter American Press Association named Professor Grossman as the recipient of the Chapultepec Grand Prize 2002 for his achievements in the field of human rights and his work and commitment to promoting and protecting the freedom of expression and of the press for all people. In 2007, Professor Grossman received the Simón Bolívar Award from the Western Hemisphere Institute for Security Cooperation in recognition of his lifetime achievements in promoting human rights, and the Charles Norberg International Lawyer of the Year Award from the Washington, D.C. chapter of the Inter-American Bar Association. In 2009, the government of the Netherlands awarded Professor Grossman the decoration of Orange Nassau in the grade of "Commendeur." In 2010, Professor Grossman received the Henry W. Edgerton Civil Liberties Award from the American Civil Liberties Union of the National Capital Area in recognition of exceptional lifetime achievements related to the advancement and defense of human rights and civil liberties. In 2011, he was awarded the decoration of "Orden de la Justicia" from the government of Colombia in recognition of his career. In 2012, Professor Grossman received the Deborah L. Rhode Award from the AALS Section on Pro Bono and Public Service Opportunities for his work on behalf of pro bono and public interest programs throughout the country, a Doctor Honoris Causa honorary degree from the Universidad de San Martin de Porres in Peru for his outstanding academic and professional trajectory in defending human rights, the Lifetime Leadership Award from the Hispanic National Bar Foundation, and the Leadership Award from the Maryland Hispanic Bar Association. In 2015, Professor Grossman was awarded an Honoris Causa honorary Doctor of Laws degree from the University of Fairleigh Dickinson for his commitment to international law, human rights and education. Professor Grossman was also awarded an Honoris Causa honorary degree in 2019 from La Universidad de Valparaiso for his contribution to the cultivation, promotion, and development of international law.
Professor Grossman's career also includes extensive litigation experience before the Inter-American and Universal systems on the rights of persons deprived of liberty, enforced disappearances, prohibition of non-discrimination and gender, political rights, rights of the child, indigenous populations, freedom of expression, prohibition of torture, and other fundamental freedoms. Professor Grossman was also involved in a number of landmark cases establishing rights and freedoms within the Inter-American system, including Aloeboetoe et al v. Suriname, Velázquez-Rodríguez v. Honduras, Awas Tingni v. Nicaragua, among others. In addition, he recently served as Agent for Chile in Obligation to Negotiate (Bolivia v Chile) from 2016-2018 and as Co-Agent from 2013-2016, and in 2014, as Advocate on the Case Concerning Maritime Dispute (Perú v. Chile) before the International Court of Justice in The Hague, Netherlands.
Professor Grossman is the author of numerous publications regarding international law, international organizations, and human rights.
Foreign Language Fluency:
Spanish, Dutch, French
Licenciado en Ciencias Juridicas y Sociales, University of Chile Law School; Doctor in de Rechtsgeleerdheid (Doctor of the Science of Law), University of Amsterdam
Education-Higher Education, Foreign Policy and International Relations, Human Rights, Latin America-Central America, Latin America-South America, Law-International Law