Jost Delbruck


Honorary Degree (2002)
Doctor of Laws
Location: Bloomington
Presenter: Myles Brand
Maurer School of Law Academy of Law Alumni Fellows (1992)
Indiana University Bloomington
LL.M., 1960


"Coming to Bloomington has had a fundamental imprint on all my life," says Jost Delbriick, who first came to the Indiana University School of Law - Bloomington from Germany in the 1950s. "I was the third exchange student from the University of Kiel who studied at the IU law school. The school was a most hospitable place, like it is today - smaller, of course - but a paradise for a German student who was accustomed to still war-torn university buildings and a shortage of resources."

Since earning his LL.M. degree from IU in 1960, Delbriick has become one of the university's most prominent graduates. A preeminent scholar of international law, he has served as the dean of the law school at the University of Kiel and as the university's president. He has also been director of the highly regarded Walther-Schiicking Institute of International Law, argued cases in the Hague before the International Court of Justice, been a member of both the Human Rights Group for the World Council of Churches and the UNESCO Human Rights Committee, and held the position of visiting professor at Harvard Law School. In addition, Delbriick has been a visiting faculty member at the IU School of Law - Bloomington every fall semester since 1989.

In a letter of nomination for this honorary degree, Alfred C. Aman Jr., dean and Roscoe C. O'Byrne Professor of Law at the IU School of Law - Bloomington, calls Delbriick "one of the world's most distinguished international law professors and lawyers." Aman also says that Delbriick has maintained a strong connection with IU throughout his career. "It is hard to imagine an alumnus of this university more dedicated to his alma mater than Jost Delbriick," he says. "His contributions to the intellectual life of the law school, his dedication to our students, especially our international students, and his mentoring of our young faculty are just some of the ways he has expressed his devotion to this university."

For Roger B. Dworkin, Robert A. Lucas Professor at the IU School of Law, having Delbriick join the law faculty "was like a dream come true." Dworkin regards Delbriick as "a person of the highest honor, dignity, intellectual capacity, and achievement," and says that his presence in Bloomington provides students with "an unequaled opportunity to learn from a master scholar." In addition to teaching here, Delbriick has fostered strong ties between IU and the University of Kiel. "He has created opportunities for our recent graduates to study in Kiel," Dworkin says, "and he has carefully selected truly outstanding students from Kiel to study here and enrich our student body. He has invited many of us to teach in Kiel, an opportunity that, for me at least, was illuminating, intellectually broadening, and personally rewarding."

And thanks to Delbriick, IU has gained quite a reputation in Kiel. Christian Tietje, a former student of Delbriick's at the University of Kiel and now chair for public law, European law, and international economic law at Martin-Luther-Universitat in Germany, says, "Professor Delbriick has always tried to convince law students of the importance of studying in the United States in order to get a better understanding of different approaches to legal issues." Explaining how important IU is to Delbriick, Tietje says, "There was hardly a class in which he did not mention the School of Law in Bloomington, its reputation, and its excellent academic environment. All of his students in Germany thus 'know' Bloomington, even if they never went there. Today, due to Professor Delbriick, Indiana University Bloomington is certainly the best-known foreign university at the University of Kiel." Delbriick's work as a mentor is fabled in Germany. Tietje says that Delbriick is unsurpassed in training professors for their academic careers in Germany. "All of his students owe very much to him," he says. A similar story is heard from Christopher Schreuer, professor of international law at the University of Vienna. While acknowledging that Delbriick's "numerous scholarly publications are of the finest quality in his field," Schreuer suggests that "perhaps his strongest achievements are in the area of developing young talent."

In November of 2000, several former students organized a celebration of Delbriick's sixty-fifth birthday, an event in which Schreuer participated. "I was struck by the large number of highly successful academics who had emerged from his institute and were the product of his pedagogical talent and dedication," he remembers. "I was even more impressed by the devotion and loyalty shown by these people to their former teacher." Tietje recalls that the birthday celebration included "an academic symposium on current and historical issues surrounding the famous 'Uniting for Peace' resolution of the General Assembly of the United Nations. This resolution and its central focus on international peace and security stand for the substantial issues Professor Delbriick was committed to throughout his academic career." He goes on to point out that it was at IU that Delbriick first started examining these issues.

Reflecting on his time at IU as an academic research fellow in the early 1960s, Delbriick says, "At that time I was very interested in the Cold War and detente talks, and the very profound questions raised about peace: Is it a political order or a legal one? But the only real strategic decision I made was that I wanted to teach. I knew that I wanted to work with young people. Teaching was a mission. I loved it, and I still do."