Academic journal article Proceedings of the Annual Meeting-American Society of International Law

Covey Oliver

Academic journal article Proceedings of the Annual Meeting-American Society of International Law

Covey Oliver

Article excerpt

Covey T. Oliver, who died at ninety-three last month at his home on Maryland's Eastern Shore, was certainly an international lawyer's international lawyer. His teaching of international law--at Berkeley, Pennsylvania, Rice, and elsewhere--spanned close to half a century. He co-authored the initial draft of the first Restatement of Foreign Relations Law of the United States. He wrote in the field prodigiously, never shied from--indeed relished--academic debate on issues both monumental and minute, and was a vigorous participant in research activities undertaken by the Society. From the time he was drafted onto the Executive Council as a young turk in 1953, he served the Society in many capacities, including a long tenure as an editor of the American Journal of International Law, and acquitted himself with distinction as the Society's 30th president from 1982 to 1984.

But Covey was emphatically more than all of this. He was, I think, constitutionally incapable of being seduced by the smug self-satisfactions that can spring from an insider's competence in the esoteric. His life in the law was comfortably subsumed by his life in general, rather than the unfortunate reverse. He was a person of broad interests and experience: he was variously a diplomat and later U.S. ambassador to Colombia, Assistant Secretary of State for Inter American Affairs, and U.S. head of the Alliance for Progress in the Kennedy-Johnson years--in all of which his fluency in Spanish and Portuguese stood him in good stead. …

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