Farewell Lecture at Peking University

Farewell Lecture at Peking University

Farewell Lecture by Shinya Murase, Visiting Professor of the Peking University School of Law (2017-2019), held on 28 September 2019, 10:00-12:00, at KoGuan Law Building, Peking University (PKU).

Moderator: Professor Song Ying, Deputy Director of the Institute of International Law, Peking University School of Law
Opening Speech: Professor Li Ming, Director of the Institute of International Law, Peking University
Keynote Presentation: Professor Shinya Murase, “The Mission of the International Law Commission in the 21st Century: An Insider’s View”
Question and Discussion
Speech by Vice Dean, Peking University Law School, Professor Guo Li
Remarks by Attending Professors and Friends
Professor Zhu Wenqi, Law School, Renimin University of China (RUC)
Professor Cen Xiaohua, Law School, University of Chinese Academy of Social Sciences (UCASS)
Professor Chen Yifeng, Peking University Institute of International Law
Remarks by Student Representatives
Ms. Fan Xiaolu, LL.M. Law School, Peking University
Concluding Remarks

For the Chinese version of the event and photos, see:

For the photos of the event, see: https://waseda.box.com/s/t6iynlonym2qe83b3h4eqaf7h4du5sas

Summary of Professor Murase’s Farewell Lecture

First I would like to express my heartfelt gratitude to my friends who have helped me over these five years. I cannot name all of them, but I must first mention Professor Zhu Wenqi (RUC), who has been my mentor in Beijing. We first met each other on the occasion of the Asian SIL held in Beijing in 2011, and from 2012, he has invited me to Jessup China Moot Court Competition. I have also been invited to give a course at Renmin University in 2018. I appreciate his kindness and friendship over the years.

I am also grateful to Professors Qin Yihe of CYU/UCASS who translated my book on International Lawmaking from Japanese into Chinese and invited me to teach at China Youth University of Political Studies (CYU) in 2014 until 2017, when CYU became merged with UCASS.

I worked closely with Professor Chen Xiaohua as CYU/UCASS, particularly in coaching Jessup students there. Ms. Chen was a very strict professor and the students were all fearful to her. By contrast, I was a very gentle coach, and I got all the love and affection from students!

Vice President Lin Wei of CYU/UCASS has been extremely helpful, for which I am heartily grateful. The UCASS team became the Champion in 2019 China Jessup, which was a highlight of my stay in Beijing! We all cried with joy when the team raised their national flag in the opening ceremony of the international rounds in Washington DC in April this year.

When it was decided that CYU be closed down, I was ready to go back to Japan. Then, as an unexpected turn of events, I was invited by Professor Chen Yifeng to teach at Peking University, and I am sure that Professor Li Ming was behind of all these. I enjoyed the five-day trip to Luoyang with Professor Li Ming immensely in March this year.

I was so thankful to Professor Song Ying for having organized a study group on the Protection of the Atmosphere, the topic I have worked on as Special Rapporteur of the International Law Commission.

I have been close to Professor Gong Ren Ren as we had the same supervisor in Japan, Professor Soji Yamamoto. Professor Yamamoto was a very strict professor, and many of his students ran away from him, but Professor Gong told us that he had a man-to-man seminar with Professor Yamamoto, and everybody wonders in Japan how Professor Gong was able to survive it.

I was so fortunate to have the students of the three universities, CYU, PKU and RUC, who were extremely bright, and hardworking, and eager to learn international law. These five years have indeed been the best of my life, and I don’t know how to thank all of you enough.

The PKU was kind enough to offer me to teach here a few more years. However, I have decided to resign due to my health conditions. Recently, I have been coughing frequently. It is not serious at present, but I thought I should exercise “precautionary measures” (that I always stressed in my International Environmental Law course!) before encountering any accident. In July this year, when I was giving my course at the Xiamen Academy of International Law, my coughs were not controllable and I had to ask Fan Xiaolu to sit by my side and take the microphone for me whenever I started coughing.

My post-retirement plan is to be a “full-time novelist”, preferably in Okinawa! But, before that, I will have to finish the
ILC project on the “Protection of the Atmosphere”, the Second reading of which will be in 2020. I also have a commitment to write a monograph, to be published by Brill/Njihoff early in 2021.

The outline of my presentation this morning is as follows:
1. Introduction
2. Establishment of the ILC and China’s Contribution
3. My Early Encounter with ILC and Afterwards
4. Problems Facing the ILC today
5. The Role of the ILC in the 21st Century
6. Protection of the Atmosphere
7. Science and International Law

(This part is omitted)

              * * *

Before I conclude, I would like to say something about “international law as a profession”. International law is a lofty profession: You can serve your own country as well as the international community as a whole. There is a lot to fill the gaps in international law, which makes its study most interesting. Creative thinking is possible and necessary. Combination of Theory and Practice is crucial. Only the selected few can be international lawyers. Friendship is the basis of this profession.

However, I must caution that, dealing with sovereign States (States can at times be quite cruel), international law can be a “dangerous material” (like explosives). It needs to be treated with utmost care and professionalism. In spite of the danger, however, we sometimes must speak out. As a result, a number of international lawyers suffered from persecution:
• H. Grotius (jailed in Loevestein Castle 1618-21);
• J. Moser (jailed in Hohentwiel Fortress, 1759-64);
• H. Kelsen (forced to leave Austria in exile after 1930);
• K. Yokota (in 1931 he wrote that the Japanese actions in Manchuria could never be justified. As a result, before the end of the war, his life was miserable. After the war, however, he had his glorious life: ILC member in 1956 and the Supreme Court Chief Justice in 1961.

Today, we are worried about Professor Maurice Kamto of Cameroon, former Member, Special Rapporteur and Chair of the International Law Commission. He is an excellent jurist and scholar. By having challenged the 37-year long dictatorship of President Paul Biya (87), now facing death penalty before the military tribunal (its judgment is expected soon, on 6 October?). The UN Secretary General, Director General of the UN Human Rights Council, France, US Congress, as well as ASIL, French SIL, IDI, Hague Academy and other institutions, expressed deep concern over Maurice Kamto. However, most unfortunately, ILC was not able to make a similar declaration due to one member’s opposition. Professor Kamto and I spoke on the “ILC’s Working Methods” at the same panel of ILC’s 70th anniversary last year, and he is still very much present in the work of the ILC today.

It has indeed been great honor and privilege to teach at PKU! Thank you! Let us stay in touch! I wish you all the best!!

Speech at the Farewell Lecture of H.E. Prof. Murase
Zhu Wenqi, Professor at Renmin University of China,
September 28, 2019

Thank you for inviting me to this event of the Farewell Lecture that I appreciate very much. Prof. Murase is the one I have great respect. The reasons I have such great respect are as follows:

Firstly, I see that Prof. Murase is the professor who has great feelings for the Chinese students. During his teaching at China Youth University, I went to listen to his lectures three times. This is rare for me, as I usually do not go to other universities for the lectures. But these lectures offered me the opportunity to observe how seriously he prepared for the lectures and for the students. For example, he distributed the outlines of the series of lectures to every student even before the beginning of the semester, so as to enable each student to know what he is going to offer in the class. Also, he came early for the lecture and sat quietly in the classroom, just waiting for the bell to ring. Moreover, the ways he organized the talk, the papers and the group discussion in the class, all these showed clearly his earnest feelings towards the students and how much he devoted to the legal education.

Then, I see that Prof. Murase is someone with big heart and that he is with a very broad vision. We all know that he is one of the Members of the ILC. Also, he is a Special Rapporteur. The ILC is a very prestigious institution of international law in the world, the organ of the United Nations, in which there are only 34 Members from all countries. As to the Special Rapporteur, we, the Asian countries, have had only 5 ever since 1947, namely 3 from Japan, 1 from India and 1 from Thailand. Prof. Murase is one of them, the Special Rapporteur for “Protection of Atmosphere” which is certainly a very important topic and which demand a lot of time for research from him. However, even with such very honorable titles, he has agreed to help us in the Jessup International Law Competition. I remember clearly that he immediately said “Yes” when I invited him to come to be a judge in our national round of Jessup. As a matter of fact, in 8 years since 2012, he is always there, helping us as a judge in our competition. With that, he has already done a lot for the Chinese legal education and for the young Chinese legal students who would surely have an important role to play in international law in China and in the world.

During his five years in China (2014 – 2019), Prof. Murase is certainly dedicated much in the Chinese legal education. Beside his lectures in the China Youth University and Peking University, he also offered lectures at Renmin University, South West University of Political Science and Law in Chong Qing, East China University of Political Science and Law, Yunnan University, etc. Whenever and wherever being with students, he is so kind and so approachable that a student feels comfortable with him, forgetting that he is actually one of the Members of the ILC and a Special Rapporteur. Prof Murase is really someone with a good heart and big heart. He is really someone who deserves respect from all the persons who have ever had chance to get to know him, including myself. With what has done, he becomes so popular now that one may easily hears his name when discussing what happens in the field of international law in China, and that it is easy to see that many Chinese law students love him very much. One thing I would like to reveal which is, I also tried once to persuade the authority of Renmin University to invite him to come to our law school when the CYU was dismantled, but I failed, as the authority insisted to go with the normal procedure which means a long time for approval. Well, in my life, I failed many times, this is just one of them, but this one which I feel extremely sorry for.

From what I know of Prof. Murase, one of the merits he has is that he always takes initiative. This is really good. You know that in order to become a Special Rapporteur, you should first do research and choose a sound topic of international law. Then, you have to explain and try to convince your colleagues to agree in the ILC. After that, you have to let your view known among the States and try to persuade them or even to fight with some of them in order to get the topic through or to move ahead …. Then, needless to say, you have to devote all your energy in the draft, discussion, exchange of views and modification, etc. So, that is the style for a Special Rapporteur, and for Prof. Murase, too, who tries all the time to make contribution to the legal education and the development of international law. It is for this and other reasons that I respect him greatly. In our e-mail exchanges, I always address him as “Dear Your Excellency”. I am sure from the bottom of my heart that Prof. Murase deserves being respected by all of us.

Now, he is leaving. At this moment which is sad but which is surely to come, I wish him all the best being back home. I especially wish him a very good health, and that he will write more and publish more novels in the years to come. That is my whole-hearted wishes from him. Thank you.

A Few Words on Professor Murase’s Farewell
Chen Xiaohua, UCASS

It is my honour to be invited to come back to PKU to represent CYU to tell some stories about Professor Murase and CYU.

I still remember the first time when I met Professor Murase at the Biennial Conference of the Asian Society of International Law in 2011. When Professor Qin introduced Professor Murase to me, he was very amiable and did not look like that he was a “big fish in a big pond” indeed. At that time, I did not expect that I would see him soon at the opening ceremony of Jessup China Rounds in February 2012. When I look back now, maybe from that moment, the gear of fate between Professor Murase and our Jessup team started quietly.

Later in that year, I attended the ILC Seminar in Geneva and witnessed that the International Law Commission included the topic on the protection of the atmosphere into the long-term programmes of work rather than current programmes. Professor Murase was very disappointed. But he is a fighter. In 2013’s session, he exercised his amazing diplomatic skills to persuade the ILC to include the topic in its current programme of work, appointing him as Special Rapporteur for the purpose. In August 2018, with his outstanding contribution, the ILC adopted the first reading of the draft guidelines on the protection of the atmosphere. From Zero to the possible, and to the first reading, Professor Murase finally made it.

Thanks to Prof. Qin’s translation of Professor Murase’s monograph “International Law Making” from Japanese into Chinese and with her tremendous efforts, Professor Murase started to teach at CYU as a long-term visiting professor from September 2014. Before Professor Murase came to CYU, Professor Qin requested me not to invite him to coach Jessup because he quitted coaching Jessup in Sophia University a long time ago, after his Rikkyo University team won the Championship in Japan. However, to my delighted surprise, he kindly offered to coach our Jessup team with me, although the preparation for the reports on the protection of the atmosphere and teaching assignments occupied a lot of his time. We worked closely during the past five years and together witnessed our team growing up from the 17th place of 2015 to 9th of 2016 with Best Memorials, to 9th again of 2017 with two Best Oralists, and finally to the Champion of this year. In 2015, he exhibited his diplomatic skills again to persuade our university to fund our team to go to Washington DC to compete as an exhibition team in Jessup International Rounds. With efforts from Professor Murase, Professor Zhu Wenqi and Vice President Lin Wei of our university, we went to DC in the following two years as well. The trips greatly expanded the horizons of our students and improved their performance.

When I worked with Professor Murase, his tolerance was very impressive to me. As he just said, I am very strict to the students. He is the opposite. He not only tolerated our students’ numerous mistakes, but also my numerous disagreements on how to coach our team.

In September 2017, when CYU was merged into UCASS, UCASS did not renew his contract, due to the reasons we all know. Even in that case, he was still willing to teach International Lawmaking course to CYU graduate students and continue to coach our Jessup of the start of the semester and therefore thought that he should not disappoint them.

Professor Murase is very generous to our students. He donated most of his English books and journals of international law to the CYU library. He paid four of our graduate students’ flight tickets from the Hague to Geneva to enable them to attend the ILC’s meetings in 2015 and 2016. He often invited our students and to fancy restaurants to have dinner. However, every time when he received his salary from our university, he always said: “Oh, my goodness. I do not deserve it.” But we all know that his contribution and dedication to educate Chinese students cannot solely be evaluated by money.

Since my time has expired, finally, I would like to convey the heartfelt gratitude of our Jessup students and also of Vice President Lin to Professor Murase. The students will always remember your encouragement and they try to be shining not only in front of the podium of the Jessup competition but also on every important occasion in their future life. Wish you enjoy the retirement and win the Nobel Prize in Literature soon. We made a big album, which record every important moment in the past five years.

Statement for Professor Murase Farewell Lecture in PKU
Fan Xiaolu, LL.M. Student, PKU
Good morning, Professor Murase, Professors from PKU law school, Professors from other law schools, my fellow classmates and dear friends,

My name is Fan Xiaolu, a second –year master student from PKU law school in Public International Law. I am very honored to say a few words in this special occasion today. First of all, I would like to offer my congratulations to Professor Murase for his wonderful lecture this morning, and secondly, on behalf of all PKU public international law students, offer our heartfelt gratitude for his teaching in PKU in the past two years. And thirdly, congratulations and best wishes to Professor Murase for his taking a step further to become a full-time novelist.

This summer, during the Xiamen Academy, one friend asked me: “Did you notice there is a ‘Professor Murase Phenomenon’?” What he was referring to was that Professor Murase’s influence on students who study public international law in Beijing. And especially for me, I took four courses given by Professor in the past one year. So I would really like to share with all of you what the “Professor Murase Phenomenon” is in my eyes.

First of all, here is something Professor Murase would often say in his class. Firstly, he is definitely the first professor in public international law in China who was part of the Nobel Peace Prize winner (The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, IPCC, was a recipient in 2007, and Professor Murase contributed thereto as a lead author). And he is also a judge for Jessup China moot court competition for eight years, He once said that he couldn’t fall asleep after the first day he judged Jessup China in 2012, because he was afraid that Japanese Foreign Ministry would not be able to compete and will lose in negotiations with China, because those Jessup China participants were awesome. During his classes, you can always find this kind of humorous talk, which shows his attitude, his passion for his life and his career.

And the second point about the “Professor Murase Phenomenon” is about his modesty. No one can deny that he is absolutely someone in the field of public international law. But, if you ask him questions, he would listen to you and think about it very carefully. I indeed asked many, maybe too many, questions in his classes. But after one semester he emailed me, expressing his thanks for me ‘saving his classes’ by my questions, which is not only encouraging to me but also shows what a humble person Professor Murase really is.

The last point about the “Murase Phenomenon” is about his integrity. In our classes, Professor Murase often talks about how disappointed, and even angry he was about his colleagues in the International Law Commission. When I first heard of this, I was thinking, oh, this Professor has a really bad temper and can be easily provoked. However, on the contrary, if you get to know him, he is a really nice person. At the same time, he is truly faithful to his occupation as an international lawyer. Thus, he cannot stand that his colleagues are not serious, for instance, about the distinctions between obligation erga omnes and jus cogens. And he was furious when his colleagues took fundamental issues so lightly, such as the expression ‘general principles of law as a source of international law’, while the definition of the ‘source’ has never been clearly defined by the Commission. Under these circumstances, he frequently makes interventions in the Commission, which he shares with us by emails. He certainly believes that his occupation has certain missions in the world, which, if not properly fulfilled, the Commission would be like a canary, which is a beautiful singing bird but has forgotten to sing for the world.

Of course, the “Professor Murase Phenomenon” is more than Professor Murase’s enthusiasm, modesty and integrity. But I believe that no one would disagree with me on these three qualities. Thus, I would like to use this opportunity to thank him again for giving us such a good example as being a scholar and an international lawyer. And I am sure that law schools in Beijing would certainly welcome you Professor Murase to come back to China frequently to maintain the friendship between you and Chinese law schools, and to continue the ‘Professor Murase Phenomenon’ in China. Thank you again, Professor Murase.

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