Aliber Family Chair in Law
BA, University of California, Berkeley, 1977
MA, University of Chicago, 1978
JD, PhD, Harvard University, 1987
Mark Osiel's writings have inspired several conferences and are assigned at many leading universities throughout the world, in a number of fields. His scholarship seeks to show how legal responses to mass atrocity may be improved by better understanding its organizational dynamics; in this way, he employs social/historical explanation to inform our normative assessment of those responsible for genocide, war crimes and crimes against humanity, whether as leaders, followers, or bystanders. Osiel’s seven volumes include Mass Atrocity, Collective Memory & the Law (1997), Obeying Orders: Atrocity, Military Discipline, and the Law of War (1999), Mass Atrocity, Ordinary Evil, and Hannah Arendt: Criminal Consciousness in Argentina's Dirty War (Yale Univ. Press, 2002), Making Sense of Mass Atrocity (Cambridge Univ. Press, 2009), The End of Reciprocity: Terror, Torture & the Law of War (Cambridge Univ. Press, 2009); The Right to Do Wrong (Harvard Univ. Press, forthcoming), and After Atrocity: New Approaches to the Restraint and Redress of Mass Killing (Cambridge Univ. Press, forthcoming).
Professor Osiel has spoken at the International Criminal Court, the International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia, and the U.S. war colleges. He has served as consultant to prosecutors of Gen. Augusto Pinochet and of Rwandan genocidaires. He advises the Department of Defense on current anti-terrorism prosecutions. Osiel also regularly addresses international organizations and governments in post-conflict societies on issues of transitional justice. His articles have appeared in the Harvard Law Review, Columbia Law Review, California Law Review, Pennsylvania Law Review, Human Rights Quarterly, Law & Social Inquiry, Representations, and Opinio Juris, among others. Prof. Osiel is a regular media commentator on legal aspects of contemporary armed conflicts.
He has been a visiting fellow at Cambridge University, Harvard's Kennedy School of Government, the London School of Economics, the American Bar Foundation/Northwestern, plus universities in Argentina, Brazil, France, The Netherlands, and India (as a Fulbright Lecturer). His courses include International Criminal/Humanitarian Law, Remedies, International Law, as well as seminars on Transitional Justice and on The Law of Armed Conflict.
Osiel’s recent research assesses the place of lawyers in the emerging global economy, particularly their ingenuity in overcoming legal obstacles to large cross-border transactions. This work, based on interviews with many leading practitioners, examines the extent to which nation-states may retain their distinctive legal traditions—and the non-market values these often embody—in the face of pressures from foreign investors for global harmonization.
After accepting a clerkship on the US Court of Appeals for the Seventh Circuit, Prof. Osiel practiced for two years at Foley Hoag, a large private law firm in Boston. Before law school, he worked as a Head Start counselor and as a paramedic in Guatemala. Avocationally, he is an avid enthusiast of foreign film.