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Professor Morse Tan confirmed for key U.S. diplomatic post

January 22, 2020

On December 19, the Senate confirmed Professor Morse Tan to serve as the next Ambassador-at-Large for Global Criminal Justice, a key position in the State Department.

“The NIU College of Law is excited for Professor Tan as he begins his new role as Ambassador-at-Large for Global Criminal Justice,” said Interim Dean Laurel Rigertas. “He has been a long-time champion of humanitarian issues and we know he will work to make valuable contributions in this important role for our country.”

Professor Tan, who has taught at NIU since 2011, is an expert on both North Korea and International Law. He has written extensively as a scholar on the subjects and taught courses such as International Criminal Law, International Human Rights, Public International Law and the North Korea Seminar. He has presented at conferences around the world including for the U.S. State Department.

According to its website, the “Office of Global Criminal Justice advises the Secretary of State and the Under Secretary of State for Civilian Security, Democracy, and Human Rights on issues related to war crimes, crimes against humanity, and genocide. In particular, the Office helps formulate U.S. policy on the prevention of, responses to, and accountability for mass atrocities.” The Ambassador-at-Large position was first created in 1997 by Secretary of State Madeleine Albright in order to bring focus in American foreign policy to the twin imperatives of enabling the prevention of, and ensuring accountability for, atrocities around the world.

“This opportunity means the pursuit of justice that can benefit many people who have been suffering from mass criminal atrocities such as genocide, crimes against humanity and war crimes.  It would call for implementing and applying what I have been researching, teaching, writing and engaging with media about over the years,” said Professor Tan.

As Ambassador-at-Large, Professor Tan hopes to advance the cause of justice in places crying out for it, by coordinating and leading U.S. government efforts using legal, diplomatic, military, intelligence and economic tools.  His goal is to prevent, mitigate and address mass criminal atrocities in the world. 

“It is a unique position that has never existed anywhere else, and thus indicates America’s leadership on these crucial issues.  It is a trust that I would take seriously and soberly, a mission more than a position to me,” he added.