Ian Brownlie

Sir Ian Brownlie CBE QC FBA (19 September 1932, Liverpool – 3 January 2010, Cairo) was a British practising barrister, specialising in international law. After an education at Hertford College, Oxford, he was called to the Bar by Gray's Inn in 1958 and was a tenant at Blackstone Chambers from 1983 until his death on 3 January 2010.[1] He was a member of the Communist Party until the Soviet Union's invasion of Czechoslovakia in 1968.[2]

During his academic career he taught at the University of Leeds, the University of Nottingham, and Wadham College, Oxford (where he was a Fellow). He was a professor of international law at the London School of Economics between 1976 and 1980. From 1980 to 1999, he was Chichele Professor of Public International Law and a Fellow of All Souls College at the University of Oxford; he was appointed a Distinguished Fellow of All Souls in 2004.

He served as an advisor to United States President Jimmy Carter during the 1979 Iranian Hostage Crisis. The cases in which he argued before the International Court of Justice include Nicaragua v. United States, Nauru v. Australia, Bosnia and Herzegovina v. Serbia and Montenegro, the Pedra Branca dispute, Libya v. United Kingdom, Libya v. United States, and Democratic Republic of the Congo v. Uganda. He also argued several important cases before the European Court of Human Rights, including Cyprus v. Turkey. He also represented Amnesty International at the extradition trial of Chilean coup-leader Augusto Pinochet before the English courts in 1999. He was a member of the United Nations' International Law Commission from 1997 until his resignation in 2008.[3]

Brownlie was a Fellow of the British Academy and his memberships included the International Law Association and the Institut de Droit International. In 2006, he was awarded the Wolfgang Friedmann Memorial Award for international law. He was knighted in the 2009 Birthday Honours.[4]

Brownlie died in a car accident in Cairo on 3 January 2010.[5][6]


Several of Brownlie's published works are considered standard texts in their fields:

  • International Law and the Use of Force between States (Oxford doctoral thesis, 1963)
  • Principles of Public International Law (1966) (7th ed., 2008)
  • Basic Documents in International Law (1967) (6th ed., 2008)
  • Basic Documents on Human Rights (1971) (5th ed., 2006)
  • African Boundaries: A Legal and Diplomatic Encyclopedia (1979)
  • System of the Law of Nations: State Responsibility (1983)


  1. Sands, Philippe (12 January 2010). "Sir Ian Brownlie obituary". The Guardian. London: 35. Retrieved 29 October 2012.
  2. Sir Ian Brownlie: International lawyer who fought for human rights and civil liberties Independent, 25 February 2010
  3. United Nations International Law Commission. Report on Matters Related to the Work of the International Law Commission at its Sixtieth Session. Retrieved 29 April 2009.
  4. "No. 59090". The London Gazette (Supplement). 13 June 2009. p. 1.
  5. "Sir Ian Brownlie CBE QC – Blackstone Chambers". blackstonechambers.com. Archived from the original on 28 March 2010. Retrieved 6 January 2010.
  6. "Blackstone Chambers mourns death of Sir Ian Brownlie QC". The Lawyer. Retrieved 6 January 2010.
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