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The sudden death of Sir Ian Brownlie QC has left the world of international law mourning the loss of one of its most prominent figures.
Brownlie died in a car crash in Egypt on Sunday (3 January).
Commenting on Brownlie’s death on TheLawyer.com, international human rights lawyer Dr Curtis Doebbler said: “He will be remembered as one of the most significant figures in international law and a true champion of social justice through law.
“In my brief encounters with him over the years he was always kind, considerate, and willing to discuss difficult legal issues. He will be greatly missed, but his monumental corpus of work will continue to serve international lawyers for many years to come.”
In June last year, Brownlie was awarded a knighthood in recognition of his contribution to international law (15 June 2009).
Brownlie practised international law for more than 40 years. His expertise made him the go-to barrister for more than 40 states, which relied on his advice to help settle international disputes.
The esteemed barrister was involved in some of the most significant international human rights cases of the 20th Century.
Highlights of his career include being called upon by the US President Jimmy Carter in 1979 to help advise on the Iranian Hostage Crisis. In 1986 he appeared before the International Court of Justice (ICJ) and successfully represented Nicaragua in its monumental case against the US. The court ruled it was illegal for the US to support rebel guerrilla groups, known as Contra, in their war against the Nicaraguan government. He also appeared before the Hague having been instructed by the Serbian Ministry of Defence to represent Serbia and Montenegro in defence of genocide claims brought against it by Bosnia.
In 2006, he was re-elected by the UK, Canada, India and New Zealand the to serve a third five-year term on the International Law Commission, the body that was established by the UN in 1948 to help develop and codify international law. He became chair of the body in 2007.
Brownlie joined Blackstone Chambers in 1983 and was among the set’s most distinguished members.
Head of set Ian Mill QC paid tribute to Brownlie: “Ian had been a member of Blackstone Chambers for over 25 years, during which time he continued to have both a phenomenal impact on the legal world as one of its most distinguished and renowned practitioners in the fields of international law and human rights, as well as playing an invaluable role in the life and development of chambers.
“His loss is, and will continue to be, deeply felt by all those with whom he worked closely, both here and throughout the world.
“We’ve been touched by the many comments and messages of condolence that have been received by us since the news of his death. Our thoughts are with his wife and family at this very difficult time.”