Harold Koh

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Harold Hongju Koh is a the former dean of the Yale Law School and is awaiting confirmation as the chief counsel of the State Department.[1]

A Korean-American native of Boston, he holds a B.A. degree from Harvard College (1975), and B.A. degree from Oxford University, (1977) where he was a Marshall Scholar. He earned his J.D. from Harvard Law School (1980), where he was Developments Editor of the Harvard Law Review, and served as a law clerk for Justice Harry Blackmun of the United States Supreme Court and Judge Malcolm Richard Wilkey of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit.

Koh is a leading expert on public and private international law, national security law, and human rights. He is wrote eight books, including Transnational Litigation in United States Courts, Foundations of International Law and Politics (with O. Hathaway); Transnational Legal Problems (with H. Steiner and D. Vagts), Transnational Business Problems (with D. Vagts and W. Dodge), and The National Security Constitution. He has published more than 150 articles on international human rights, international business transactions, national security and foreign affairs law, international trade, international organizations, international law and political science, and procedure.

Koh's views on "transnational law" have alarmed some conservatives who fear that someday U.S. laws might be overturned by an international tribunal.

Koh was a professor at Yale Law School 1985-2009, and dean 2001-2009; he previously served as U.S. Assistant Secretary of State for Democracy, Human Rights and Labor.

Erroneus reports have circulated to the effect that he wants to bring Sharia law to the United States. In 2007 at a question and answer session he said that while there are obvious differences among the many different legal systems, they also share some common legal concepts. The organizer of the event attests that Koh "never told our group that he would or might consider applying sharia law in US cases." [2]


  1. See Yale Law School biography
  2. Daniel Pipes, "Harold Koh, Promoter of Shari'a?" Blog March 30, 2009