Thomas M. Franck

By Higgins, Rosalyn | Proceedings of the Annual Meeting-American Society of International Law, Annual 2010 | Go to article overview

Thomas M. Franck


Higgins, Rosalyn, Proceedings of the Annual Meeting-American Society of International Law


This is proving a very successful Annual Meeting. There have been stimulating panels, large attendances, good discussions, and well-chosen themes. But I know that I am not alone in feeling that something is wrong, something is missing. We are all feeling, I think, the absence of Tom Franck, speaking, listening, sliding in and out of the various sessions, encouraging the young and seeking out his friends.

He is, of course, still here with us in an intangible sense. There is, after all, a panel directed towards his influence in the field of use of force; and we each of us carry our memories of Tom.

Those memories, while of course personal, may this week properly be centered on Tom Franck's role--a role of long years' standing--at the heart of the American Society of International Law. He was a member of the Society for over 50 years. He participated with enthusiasm in various panels (and in recent years attracted an appreciative student audience, who were inspired by the ideas he articulated). He served on committees of the Society and spoke at the Society's Dinners. While he spoke lightly and with ease, his contributions were in fact the product of much thought, research, and preparation.

He enjoyed the fun of speaking and debating. But he also gave generously of his time in the performance of important assignments for the Society that were perhaps less "pure fun." From 1984 until 1993 he was the Editor-in-Chief of the Journal. As avid readers of the Journal, we perhaps give too little thought to the burden it imposes on the Editors-in-Chief. The Editor-in-Chief must read all manuscripts (and a large number of unsolicited manuscripts are received) and select which will be sent to other Board members (or occasionally to other specialists for their input). The Editor-in-Chief bears the final responsibility for which papers will be accepted (perhaps after reworking) and those which will be rejected. There is so much else in the Journal that requires the meticulous attention of the Editor-in-Chief. For over thirty years those responsibilities have been felt to be so onerous that, with one exception, they required joint Editors-in-Chief to get through the work. The one exception, of course, was Tom Franck, who from 1984 to 1993 assumed that heavy burden as sole Editor-in-Chief.

One of Tom's many attributes was that he was good at delegation, and he hugely valued the assistance of Anna Ascher in this task. He went on writing for the American Journal--and elsewhere--throughout this period, just as he went on writing throughout his immensely busy years at NYU. …

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