Professor Majid Khadduri

By Killgore, Andrew I. | Washington Report on Middle East Affairs, July 31, 1996 | Go to article overview

Professor Majid Khadduri


Killgore, Andrew I., Washington Report on Middle East Affairs


Professor Majid Khadduri

By Andrew I. Killgore

Majid Khadduri was born in Mosul in northern Iraq in 1908. In the Arabic language Mosul, which derives from the verb to arrive or connect, might be translated as the place of arrival or connection. Dr. Khadduri believes his own family may have originated in the Caucasus before it "arrived" in Mosul some generations ago.

At the northern tip of the Middle East's "fertile crescent" and also on the "silk road" to China, Mosul traditionally produces leaders, ideas and energetic "go-getters" such as Dr. Majid Khadduri. An often heard comment in Iraq is that Maslawis (people of Mosul) tend to excel in every field of endeavor.

Young Majid finished high school in his native city in 1928. Then, aware that he was supposed to excel, he was off to make his mark in the wider world.

The first stop was Lebanon, where he studied at the famed American University of Beirut (AUB). Then, after earning his B.A. degree in 1932, he headed for the United States and the University of Chicago. Six years later, he had his Ph.D. degree in political science and international law.

There were good job prospects for Dr. Khadduri at that time in the United States, but sentiment pulled him back to Baghdad, the capital of his native land. There the Iraqi Ministry of Education became his professional home from 1939 to 1947. During the same period he also was a professor of law and taught at the Higher Teachers Colleges.

As World War II came to an end, he was "borrowed" for what became one of the most exciting periods of his life. From Baghdad he was sent to San Francisco as a member of Iraq's delegation at the founding sessions of the United Nations. Although he was not the most senior member of the delegation, Dr. Khadduri nevertheless spent many days and nights actually drafting or suggesting changes in the draft of what eventually became the charter of the world body.

A delightful surprise for the by then middle aged Iraqi delegate was the discovery in San Francisco of so many fellow AUB graduates among the various national delegations at the U.N. conference.

In fact it later appeared that there were more graduates of AUB among the U.N. founding delegates at San Francisco than from any other university in the world. Thus, in a sense, the optimism and practical idealism with which the American founders and professors of AUB imbued the university's graduates still can be seen today in a United Nations which, despite its problems, remains the world's greatest hope.

After his interlude with the Iraqi delegation in San Francisco, Dr. Khadduri's academic home for more than 30 years was Johns Hopkins University's School of Advanced International Studies (SAIS) in Washington, DC. He served there as professor of Middle East studies from 1949 to 1970. …

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