Christian Tomuschat was born in Stettin, Pomerania, on 23 July 1936. He attended schools in Hamburg, Ludwigsburg, Künzelsau, Schwäbisch Hall and Stuttgart, where he took his “Abitur” in 1955. From 1955 to 1959 he studied law and languages at the universities of Heidelberg and Montpellier. Immediately after his first legal State examination in December 1959, he was hired as a translator for French and Italian by the Court of Justice of the European Communities. After his return from Luxemburg in 1961, he pursued his legal education as a legal trainee in the service of the State of Baden-Württemberg until 1965 (second legal State examination). In 1964, he obtained his doctoral degree in law. As from 1965 he worked as a research assistant at the Law Faculty of Heidelberg and at the Max Planck Institute for Comparative Public Law and International Law in Heidelberg. After his “Habilitation” in 1970, he served as visiting professor at the universities of Mainz and Tübingen. In 1972, he was appointed full professor for Constitutional and International Law at the Faculty of Law and Economics of the University of Bonn (Dean in 1978). In 1995 he accepted an offer from Humboldt University in Berlin to take the chair of constitutional and international law and to direct the Institute of International and European Law. In 2004 he retired from active service.
Christian Tomuschat was elected in 1976 as a member of the newly formed Human Rights Committee under the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights. He served on this Committee until 1986. In 1985, he was also elected as a member of the International Law Commission where he remained until 1996 (Chairman in 1992). Among other UN activities, he performed the functions of a rapporteur on the human rights situation in Guatemala from 1990 to 1993; from 1997 to 1999 he coordinated in that country the work of the national truth commission (“Comisión para el Esclarecimiento Histórico”). In 2010, he served as chairperson of the expert group, established by the UN Secretary General, on internationalhumanitarian and human rights laws to monitor and assess any domestic, legal or other proceedings undertaken by both the Government of Israel and the Palestinian side, in light of GA resolution 64/254 including the independence, effectiveness, genuineness of these investigations and their conformity with international standards.
He was a member of the Consultative Board on International Law (“Völkerrechtswissenschaftlicher Beirat”) of the Auswärtiges Amt from from 1981 to 2006. He has represented the Federal Republic of Germany before the European Court of Human Rights, the Court of Justice of the European Community/Union and before the International Court of Justice. He has also acted as counsel for the Federal Government before the German Constitutional Court and as a member of the team that represented Cameroon before the International Court of Justice in its border dispute with Nigeria (1994-2002).
He was a judge at the Administrative Tribunal of the Inter-American Development Bank from 1995 to 1997 and at the Administrative Tribunal of the African Development Bank from 1999 to 2008. Since September 2013, he serves as the President of the OSCE Court of Conciliation and Arbitration. He was also chosen a couple times as arbitrator in proceedings under the auspices of the International Centre for Settlement of Investment Disputes.
He was a member of the International Commission of Jurists (Geneva) from 1981 to 1996 and continues cooperating with the Commission as an Honorary member. In 1977 he initiated a series of biannual meetings of teachers of public law from Germany and Italy that continue until today. From 1993 to 1997, he was the President of the German Society for International Law. He was a board member of the German Association of Teachers of Constitutional Law (1986-1987). He was admitted to the Institut de droit international in 1997. As from 1992 to 2006 he served in the Advisory Board of the Heidelberg Max Planck Institute for Comparative Public Law and International Law and from 2006 to 2015 as a member of the Kuratorium of the Institute.
In 1964, he was awarded the Prize of the Legatum Visserianum (Leiden, Netherlands) for his dissertation on preliminary rulings by the Court of Justice of the European Communities. In 1995, he received the Great Cross of Merit (“Bundesverdienstkreuz”). In 2003, Cameroon admitted him as Officer to the “Ordre de la Valeur”. In the same year, the University of Zürich promoted him to Dr. honoris causa. In 2005, the University of Florence (Italy) designed him as “Protagonista della cultura giuridica europea”. In 2006, he was admitted to the German Order “Pour le mérite” for scientists and artists. In 2012, he was awarded the Ludwig Quidde Peace Prize in Osnabrück, the town of the Westfalian Peace Treaty. In 2016, he was awarded the degree of Dr. juris h.c. by the University of Tartu (Estonia).
Christian Tomuschat is the author of numerous books and articles on issues of constitutional and international law. Among his latest publications are the book “Human Rights – Between Idealism and Realism” (3rd ed., Oxford 2014) as well as articles on the impact of jus cogens on the Security Council (contained in E. Cannizzaro, The Present and Future of Jus Cogens, 2015), the Arab Court of Human Rights (in French: Revue universelle des droits de l’homme, 2015), on Human Rights and Cultural Traditions (in German: Europäische Grundrechte-Zeitschrift, 2016), and on the Hegemonic Role of English in the Field of International Law (Nordic Journal of International Law, 2017). He was twice called to lecture at the Hague Academy of International Law (1993, 1999: General Course on International Law).
A detailed list of publications can be found here.