Professor Karima Bennoune, ’94, received the American Society of International Law (ASIL) Prominent Woman in International Law award at the group’s recent annual meeting—an event that was co-chaired by Professor Julian Arato. 

Group of UM Law students smiling with a professor
Professor Karima Bennoune, recipient of the 2024 Prominent Woman in International Law award from the American Society of International Law, is pictured with 3Ls Grace Bruce and Emily Hammerslough and LLM student Widad Elias at the award luncheon.

ASIL is a nonprofit organization that supports the study of international law. Presented by ASIL’s Women in International Law Interest Group at the society’s annual meeting, the award to Bennoune “recognizes the work of women who use international law to advance women and women’s rights, break through glass ceilings, and promote women and women’s voices in the field.”

In announcing the award, the group said Bennoune’s nomination had received wide support, particularly in light of her leadership in the international movement to formally recognize the situation in Afghanistan as “gender apartheid.”

“In promoting women’s rights, Professor Bennoune has done substantial fieldwork…to uplift and promote women suffering persecution around the world,” the group noted. 

“I am deeply honored and humbled to receive this as a recognition of the work I have done with so many women frontline human rights defenders,” Bennoune said. “I am so grateful for the Law School’s support, which has made it possible for me to do this work—both during my excellent legal education years ago, and since I have had the joy of coming back [as a faculty member].”

Leading ASIL’s annual meeting

ASIL presented Bennoune’s award as part of its annual meeting April 3-6 in Washington, DC—with Arato serving as co-chair of the meeting. Bennoune served as chair of the group’s midyear meeting in November 2023. 

As one of three co-chairs of the meeting, Arato was responsible for overseeing the entire conference—comprising 60 panel discussions and four keynote speeches, attended by some 1,200 people. The co-chairs work with a committee that helps put together the panels, but they do considerable hands-on organizing as well. 

Arato also had the opportunity to lead one of the keynote events: He conducted a fireside chat with US Trade Representative Katherine Tai to open the conference.  

Watch the Fireside Chat

Two people having a conversation in front of an audience
Professor Julian Arato, who co-chaired the annual meeting, moderated the policy keynote conversation with US Trade Representative Katherine Tai. 

ASIL is a really important organization. and the University of Michigan Law School is a longtime academic partner institution. Members of our community go every year to present, and in addition to Karima, our faculty members have received numerous awards,” Arato said.

The Law School also sponsored five students’ attendance at the conference, which Arato said can be a defining experience for a young lawyer with a largely academic background. 

“Suddenly you’re with over a thousand people, 700 or 800 of whom are practicing lawyers in the field from all levels of seniority, or scholars in the field. And you’re treated as an equal. You can go to panels; you can ask questions of government officials, ambassadors, and cabinet members in a room filled with some of the people whose work you’ve read and learned from. So, first of all, it’s an important and enriching experience for students and faculty, but it’s also one with real payoff for the students’ careers.”

Interim Dean Kyle Logue noted that Arato’s and Bennoune’s work with ASIL highlights the longstanding importance of international law at Michigan. 

“International law has been central to the Law School’s identity since its founding, when our statutory mission required one faculty member to be devoted to it. Since then, international law has only grown in scope and importance,” Logue said. “Today, our international law faculty are leaders in the field, and I’m proud to see this reflected in our work with ASIL.”

At Michigan Law, Arato is a professor of law, director of the Program on Law and the Global Economy, and faculty director of the Center for International and Comparative Law. His research focuses on the law of treaties, international investment law and arbitration, international trade, contracts, corporations, and private law theory. His article “The Private Law Critique of International Investment Law” won the 2019 Francis Deák Prize for best article by a younger author published in the American Journal of International Law, as well as the inaugural ICCA Guillermo Aguilar-Alvarez Memorial Prize. He has previously served ASIL on its executive council and as co-chair of the international economic law interest group.

Bennoune—the Lewis M. Simes Professor of Law—specializes in public international law and international human rights law, including issues related to culture, extremism and terrorism, and women’s human rights. She served as the UN special rapporteur in the field of cultural rights from 2015 to 2021. In September 2023, she addressed the UN Security Council about gender apartheid in Afghanistan. Her book, Your Fatwa Does Not Apply Here (W.W. Norton & Co., 2013), received the 2014 Dayton Literary Peace Prize for nonfiction.

Banner photo: Five current Michigan Law students joined faculty and staff at the American Society of International Law annual meeting in Washington, DC. Erick Guapizaca Jiménez LLM ’23, SJD candidate; 3L Emily Hammerslough; 3L Grace Bruce; LLM student Widad Elias; and 3L Matt Azzopardi are pictured at an alumni reception with Center for International and Comparative Law staff Elizabeth Snook, Assistant Dean for International Affairs Eric Christiansen, and Faculty Director Julian Arato.