Whitney R. Harris World Law Institute

Through a combination of education and research, the Harris Institute contributes to the betterment of global society by increasing global knowledge and understanding, promoting the rule of law, and addressing problems that require international cooperation and international solutions. 

The Institute enhances the intellectual vibrancy of Washington University School of Law and the University, provides advice and assistance to other University departments and transnational components of the Law School, and fosters collaboration among colleagues at home and abroad who are engaged in international or comparative work. 

Projects and Programs

The Harris Institute offers a wide variety of programs by drawing on a vast pool of international and national expertise to foster collaboration, continuous dialogue and exchange of ideas among scholars, business and government leaders, members of civil society and practitioners engaged in international or comparative law work. 

With a focus on developing innovative global solutions to real-life problems, the Institute has sponsored more than 125 speakers and held or co-sponsored more than 28 major international  conferences since it opened.  It also provides future lawyers opportunities to engage in valuable research and practical experience, including through programs like the Dagen-Legomsky Fellowships, the Crimes Against Humanity Research Project, the ICC Legal Tools Project, and the Research Project on the Gun Violence Epidemic in the United States.   

The Institute's blog, Lex Lata, Lex Ferenda, offers commentary on current international and comparative law and global affairs issues written by Washington University faculty, alumni, and students as well as guest contributors. 

History of the Institute

The Harris Institute officially opened its doors in November 2000 as the Washington University School of Law “Institute for Global Legal Studies.” Stephen H. Legomsky, the John S. Lehmann University Professor and former Chief Counsel of U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services, served as its first director, and was succeeded by John O. Haley, the Wiley B. Rutledge Professor of Law in 2002.  

In February 2002, the Institute was renamed to the “Harris Institute for Global Legal Studies” in honor and recognition of Whitney R. Harris’ lifelong achievements in the field of international justice, and his support of legal education and research.  

In Fall 2007, Leila Nadya Sadat, the James Carr Professor of International Criminal Law, was named the Institute's third director and launched the Crimes Against Humanity Initiative in 2008, a ground-breaking project to write the world’s first global treaty on crimes against humanity.

Whitney R. Harris (1912 –2010)

The namesake of the Institute, Whitney R. Harris, served as a trial counsel prosecuting the major German war criminals before the International Military Tribunal at Nuremberg, from August 1945 to the conclusion of the trial on October 1, 1946.  Mr. Harris kept the Nuremberg dream alive through his writings and his advocacy, and later through his philanthropic generosity.  In 2001, he endowed the Institute for Global Legal Studies at the Washington University School of Law.  In 2008 he and Anna Harris endowed the Institute’s “World Peace Through Law Award” at a ceremony during which the Harris Institute’s name was changed to the “Whitney R. Harris World Law Institute” the name it bears today. He was the last surviving prosecutor on Justice Robert Jackson’s team. To view his memorial page, click [here].

The Institute is grateful to the generous donations of our financial supporters and institutional and strategic partners.  

Leadership and Staff

Professor Leila Sadat has served as the Director of the Whitney R. Harris World Law Institute since 2007 and is the James Carr Professor of International Criminal Law at the School of Law. The work of the Institute is also guided by an active Faculty Advisory Board and an International Council that is comprised of respected statesmen, international jurists, and distinguished scholars. Read more on the leadership and staff here.   

Leila Nadya Sadat, Director of the Whitney R. Harris World Law Institute and James Carr Professor of International Criminal Law    
Office: Anheuser-Busch Hall, Room 564
Phone: (314) 935-6411
Email: sadat@wustl.edu 

Madaline George, Harris Institute Fellow 
Office: Seigle Hall, No. 112   
Phone: 314-935-3379 
Email: madalinegeorge@wustl.edu 

Bethel Mulugeta Mandefro, Program Coordinator and Office Manager  
Office: Seigle Hall, No. 108B 
Phone: 314-935-7988
Fax: 314-935-7961
E-mail: bmandefro@wustl.edu