Georgetown Law Mourns the Passing of University Professor John H. Jackson

November 9, 2015 — Georgetown University Law Center mourns the passing of University Professor John H. Jackson, who died on Saturday, November 7, 2015, at the age of 83.

Professor John H. Jackson Professor John H. Jackson

The founding director of the Institute of International Economic Law, Jackson was a towering figure, a truly legendary member of the faculty. In particular he is known for his work on the Trade Act of 1974 and for creating the intellectual framework of the World Trade Organization dispute settlement procedures. His book World Trade and the Law of GATT is considered the bible for trade law and policy specialists — and is but one of many major contributions he made to international economic law.

“We have lost a giant,” said Georgetown Law Dean William M. Treanor in a statement. “John was a major figure in international law, playing a central role in the development of our modern trade system and the founding of the Institute of International Economic Law. Throughout his professional life he played a leadership role in thinking through the evolution of the field of international economic law. Indeed, even in my last meeting with him in the spring of this year, he excitedly discussed how Georgetown could act to shape that field. Not only a gifted scholar, he was a great mentor to countless former students and to many on this faculty. He was a man of absolute integrity and profound concern for others. It was privilege to be his colleague.”

In 2008, Jackson was awarded the Manley O. Hudson medal from the American Society of International Law. The same year he received an honorary doctorate from the European Union Institute. The founding editor of the Journal of International Economic Law, Jackson was the honorary vice president of the American Society of International Law and also a member of the American Law Institute and the Council on Foreign Relations. He received the Wolfgang Friedmann Memorial Award for his lifelong contribution to international law. 

In over 40 years of teaching Jackson shared his extraordinary knowledge and expertise in international law with generations of students and scholars. And his numerous articles and books, including the casebook Legal Problems of International Economic Relations (with Davey and Sykes; now in its sixth edition), will continue to shape generations to come. 

Jackson served the nation as general counsel for the U.S. Office of the Special Trade Representative (now the Office of the U.S. Trade Representative) and as acting deputy special representative for trade, both in the mid-1970s. 

Professor John H. Jackson was born in Kansas City, Mo., in 1932.  He received his A.B. from Princeton in 1954 and his J.D. from the University of Michigan Law School in 1959. After two years of law practice in Milwaukee and a stint as professor of law at the University of California, Berkeley, School of Law, he returned to Michigan to teach. In 1983 he was named the Hessel E. Yntema Professor of Law there, and he remained a member of the Michigan faculty with emeritus status. He arrived at Georgetown Law in 1998. 

Professor Jackson is survived by his wife, Joan Leland, daughters Jeannette, Lee Ann and Michelle, and four grandchildren. 

A memorial at the Law Center is planned for the spring. The family has asked that in lieu of flowers, contributions be made to the John H. Jackson Scholarship Fund, available by visiting or by sending a check made out to Georgetown University Law Center, with John H. Jackson Scholarship on the memo/other line, to:

Georgetown University Law Center
Attn: Priscilla Rawlins
600 New Jersey Ave., N.W.
Washington, D.C. 20001

A memorial page is available here.

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