Richard A. Falk

Richard A. Falk

Richard A. Falk is an United States professor of international law, a prolific writer, speaker and activist on world affairs, the author or co-author of more than 20 books [ [ USC Center on Public Diplomacy, Dean’s Open Forum, Richard Falk] November 4, 2004.] and an appointee to two United Nations positions on the Palestinian territories.

Life and work

Richard Falk obtained a Bachelor of Science in Economics from the Wharton School, University of Pennsylvania, a Bachelor of Laws from Yale University and a Doctor of Laws from Harvard University. He is Albert G. Milbank Professor of International Law and Practice, Emeritus at Princeton University, and was Visiting Distinguished Professor in Global and International Studies at the University of California, Santa Barbara (2001-2004). He retired from teaching in 2001.Karin Dienst, [ Falk evaluates Mideast violence with U.N. team] , Princeton University Weekly Bulletin, February 19, 2001.]

Falk has published a number of notable books and essays analyzing the legality of the Vietnam War and other military operations. With regard to the 2003 invasion of Iraq, he has written that it is "inescapable that an objective observer would reach the conclusion that this Iraq war is a war of aggression, and as such, that it amounts to a Crime against Peace of the sort for which surviving German leaders were indicted, prosecuted and punished at the Nuremberg trials conducted shortly after the Second World War." [ [ "Frontline"] , Volume 20, Issue 08, April 12-25, 2003.]

He is a member of the Editorial Boards of "The Nation" and "The Progressive", Chair of the Board of the Nuclear Age Peace Foundation [ [ Princeton University] faculty profile.] [ Biographical Profile] from University of California, Santa Barbara lecture.] and a member of the [ World Federalist Institute] . He has recently accepted the position of Distinguished Visiting Professor of Law at Chapman University School of Law [ [] .] He was a member of the Advisory Board for the American Movement for World Government. [ [ American Movement for World Government ] ]

In 1999-2000 Falk worked on the [ Independent International Commission on Kosovo] .

United Nations Appointments

In 2001 Falk served on a United Nations Human Rights Inquiry Commission for the Palestinian territories with John Dugard, a South African based in Leiden University in the Netherlands and Kamal Hussein, former foreign minister of Bangladesh. Falk stated the two main issues were: "One is evaluating whether the conditions of occupation are such as to give the Palestinians some kind of right of resistance. And if they have that right, then what are the limits to that right?" and "The other issue at stake in this current inquiry is to evaluate how Israel as the occupying power is carrying out its responsibility to protect the society that is subject to its control." After its investigation the commission issued a report entitled [ "Human rights inquiry commission to gather and compile information on the violation of human rights by Israel in the occupied Palestinian territories."]

On March 26, 2008, the United Nations Human Rights Council (UNHRC) appointed Falk to a six-year term as a special investigator on Israeli actions in the Palestinian territories. Falk replaces South African professor John Dugard, an expert on apartheid who will leave his post in June 2008 after seven years. [ UN envoy hits Israel 'apartheid'] , BBC, February 23, 2007] Former US ambassador to the United Nations, John Bolton, criticized Falk's appointment to the United Nations Human Rights Council, stating that "This is exactly why we voted against the new human rights council." In May 2008 the National Lawyers Guild urged Israel to permit Falk entry, stating "Falk made no claims any different from those made by John Dugard, the man he was to replace, in several reports on conditions in the Occupied Territories." [ [ Press Release: National Lawyers Guild Urges Israel to Permit Richard Falk to Enter Israel and the Occupied Palestinian Territories] , Common Dreams, April 23, 2008.] In a July 2008 interview Falk stated the constraints would "limit my exposure to the direct realities. But I think it's quite possible to perform this role without that exposure. Barring my entry complicates my task but doesn't make it undoable." [Linda Mamoun, [ Israel Bars UN Human Rights Watchdog From Occupied Territories] , Alternet reprint of The Nation article, posted on July 11, 2008.]

Controversial positions and statements

upport for 9/11 conspiracy theories

In 2004, Falk wrote a preface to theologian David Ray Griffin's book "" [David Ray Griffin, "The New Pearl Harbor: Disturbing Questions About the Bush Administration and 9/11," Interlink, 2005.] which posits that the attacks on 9/11 were the product of a US Government conspiracy. In that preface he argued that "There have been questions raised here and there and allegations of official complicity made almost from the day of the attacks, especially in Europe, but no one until Griffin has had the patience, the fortitude, the courage, and the intelligence to put the pieces together in a single coherent account."

Falk also wrote a chapter for Griffin's 2006 book entitled "". [David Ray Griffin, "9/11 and American Empire: Intellectuals Speak Out," Olive Branch Press, 2006.] Falk argued that "Momentous suspicious events bearing on the legitimacy of the process of governance in the US have been consistently shielded from mainstream inquiry by being reinscribed as the wild fantasies of 'conspiracy theorists'... The management of suspicion is itself suspicious." [ David Aaronovitch, [ UN expert? No, a conspiracy crank] , The Times blog, April 15, 2008.]

upport for Iranian Revolution and Ruhollah Khomeini

On February 16, 1979, two weeks after the Iranian revolution returned religious leader Ruhollah Khomeini to Iran, Falk wrote an op-ed for the New York Times entitled "Trusting Khomeini." He criticized President Jimmy Carter's accusations of "religious fanaticism" and media descriptions of Khomeini as being backward, antisemitic, and guilty of "theocratic fascism." Believing that Khomeini had been judged unfairly, he concluded "the depiction of [Khomeini] as fanatical, reactionary and the bearer of crude prejudices seems certainly and happily false ... To suppose that Ayatollah Khomeini is dissembling seems almost beyond belief. ... Having created a new model of popular revolution based, for the most part, on nonviolent tactics, Iran may yet provide us with a desperately-needed model of humane governance for a third-world country." [Richard Falk OpEd, "Trusting Khomeini," New York Times, February 16, 1979.] It was nine months after his editorial was published that student followers of Khomeini took 52 American diplomats hostage at the US Embassy in Iran and held them for 444 days.Eli Lake, [ U.N. Official Calls for Study Of Neocons' Role in 9/11] , New York Sun, April 10, 2008]

tatements on Israeli-Palestinian conflict

In a June 2007 article called "Slouching toward a Palestinian Holocaust," Falk compared some Israeli policies with regard to the Palestinians to the Nazi Germany record of collective punishment. Identifying himself as an American Jew, Falk stated that his use of the term "holocaust" "represents a rather desperate appeal to the governments of the world and to international public opinion to act urgently to prevent these current [Israeli] genocidal tendencies from culminating in a collective tragedy [for the Palestinians] ." Falk also stated that "the comparison should "not" be viewed as literal, but...that a pattern of criminality associated with Israeli policies in Gaza has actually been supported by the leading democracies of the 21st century." [Richard Falk, [ "Slouching toward a Palestinian Holocaust"] , [ The Transnational Foundation for Peace and Future Research (TFF)] , June 29, 2007.]

In response to Falk's past comments, Yitzhak Levanon, the Israeli ambassador to the United Nations in Geneva, criticized Falk's appointment by the United Nations Human Rights Council in an address to the council, stating: "He has taken part in a UN fact-finding mission which determined that suicide bombings were a valid method of 'struggle'. He has disturbingly charged Israel with 'genocidal tendencies', and accused it of trying to achieve security through 'state terrorism'. Someone who has publicly and repeatedly stated such views cannot possibly be considered independent, impartial or objective." [ [ UNHRC appointment infuriates Israel] , "The Jerusalem Post", March 26, 2008.] The Israeli government announced that it will deny Falk a visa to Israel, the West Bank and the Gaza Strip, at least until the September 2008 meeting of the Human Rights Council. [ [ Israel to bar UN official for comparing Israelis to Nazis] , "Haaretz", April 8, 2008.]

Falk responded to the criticism by saying, "If this kind of situation had existed for instance in the manner in which China was dealing with Tibet or the Sudanese government was dealing with Darfur, I think there would be no reluctance to make that comparison." He attributed the reluctance to criticise Israel's policies to the sensitive history of the Jewish people, as well as the state's ability to "avoid having (its) policies held up to international law and morality." [ [ UN expert stands by Nazi comments] , BBC, April 8, 2008]

In June 2008, Falk proposed to the Human Rights Council that his mandate to investigate violations of international humanitarian law in the Palestinian territories be extended to include possible Palestinian infringements. He stated his goal was to "insulate" the Council, which is dominated by Muslim and African states, "from those who contend that its work is tainted by partisan politics." [ [ UN official who compared Israel to Nazis turns the spotlight on Palestinians] , Haaretz, June 16, 2008.]


* "International Law and the Third World: Reshaping Justice (Routledge-Cavendish Research in International Law)", Editor, Routledge, July 29, 2008.
* "Achieving Human Rights" , Routledge, 2008.
* "Israel-Palestine on Record: How the New York Times Misreports Conflict in the Middle East" with Howard Friel, Verson, 2007.
* "The Costs of War: International Law, the UN, and World Order after Iraq", Routledge, 2007.
* "Foundations of Restoration Ecology: The Science and Practice of Ecological Restoration (The Science and Practice of Ecological Restoration Series)" with Richard J. Hobbs, Donald A. Falk, Margaret Palmer, and Joy Zedler; Island Press, 2006.
* "Crimes of War: Iraq" with Irene Gendzier, Robert Jay Lifton; Nation Books, 2006.
* "The Declining World Order: America's Imperial Geopolitics", Routledge, 2004.
* "The Great Terror War", Interlink Publishing Group, 2002.
* "Religion and Humane Global Governance," Palgrave Macmillan, 2001.
* "In Pursuit of the Right to Self-Determination Collected Papers of the First International", Editor with D. Kly, Clarity Press, 2001.
* "Unlocking the Middle East: The Writings of Richard Falk," Jean Allain, Editor; Olive Branch Press, 2002.
* "Reframing the International: Law, Culture, Politics," Routledge, 2002.
* "Human Rights Horizons: The Pursuit of Justice in a Globalizing World," Routledge, 2001.
* "Predatory Globalization: A Critique," Polity, 1999.
* "Indefensible Weapons: The Political and Psychological Case Against Nuclearism" with Robert Jay Lifton, House of Anansi Press, 1998.
* "On Humane Governance: Toward a New Global Politics - The World Order Models Project Report of the Global Civilization Initiative", Pennsylvania State University Press, 1995.
* "Explorations at the Edge of Time: The Prospects for World Order", Temple University Press, 1993.
* "The Promise of World Order: Essays in Normative International Relations", Temple University Press, 1988.
* "Revolutionaries and Functionaries," Dutton Adult, 1988.
* "International Law: A Contemporary Perspective (Studies on a Just World Order, No 2)" with Friedrich Kratochwil, Saul H. Mendlovitz; Westview Press, 1985.
* "Human Rights and State Sovereignty", Holmes & Meier Publishers, 1981.
* "The Vietnam War and International Law", Editor, Pinceton University Press, 1976.
* "A Study of Future Worlds", Free Press, 1975.
* "Regional Politics and World Order" with Saul H. Mendlovitz, W.H.Freeman & Co Ltd, 1973.
* "This Endangered Planet," Random House, 1971.
* "The United Nations and a Just World Order" with Samuel S. Kim, Saul H. Mendlovitz; Westview Press, 1991.
* "Crimes of War: A Legal, Political-Documentary, and Psychological Inquiry into the Responsibility of Leaders, Citizens, and Soldiers for Criminal Acts in Wars" with Gabriel Kolko, Robert Jay Lifton; Random House, 1971.
* "A Global Approach to National Policy," Harvard University Press, 1975.
* "The Vietnam war and international law," edited by Richard A. Falk with Wolfram F. Hanrieder; J. B. Lippincott, 1968.
* "In the Name of America-The Conduct of the War in Vietnam by the Armed Forces of the U.S.", editor with Seymour Melman, E.P. Dutton, 1968.
* "The Six Legal Dimensions of the Vietnam War", Princeton University Press, 1968.
* "International Law And Organization," Editor with Wolfram F. Hanrieder, Lippincott, 1968.
* "Legal Order In A Violent World," Princeton University Press, 1968.
* "Strategy of World Order (Volumes I to IV)", edited with Saul H. Mendlovitz, World Law Fund, 1966-67.
* "Toward a Theory of War Prevention", with Saul H. Mendlovitz, Transaction Publishers, 1966.
* "Security in Disarmament", Editor with Richard J. Barnet, Princeton University Press, 1965.
* "Essays on Espionage and International Law" with Quincy Wright, Julius Stone, Roland J. Stanger; Ohio State University Press, 1962.


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