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Rosalyn Higgins, Baroness Higgins

  (Redirected from Rosalyn Higgins)

Rosalyn C. Higgins, Baroness Higgins, DBE, QC (born 2 June 1937, London)[1] is a former President of the International Court of Justice (ICJ). She was the first female judge elected to the ICJ, and was elected President in 2006. Her term of office expired on 6 February 2009. She was succeeded as President by Judge Hisashi Owada, and Sir Christopher Greenwood was elected in her place as Judge in the International Court of Justice.

The Lady Higgins
ICJ-CJI hearing 1.jpg
Rosalyn Higgins, second from right, at the International Court of Justice.
Personal details
Born Rosalyn C. Cohen
(1937-06-02) 2 June 1937 (age 81)
Nationality British
Spouse(s) Terence Higgins, Baron Higgins
Alma mater University of Cambridge
Yale Law School
Occupation Judge



Born to a Jewish family in 1937 as Rosalyn Cohen, she married the politician Terence Higgins in 1961 (Sir Terence from 1993, Lord Higgins since 1997).[2]

Education and careerEdit

Higgins studied at Girton College, University of Cambridge receiving her B.A. degree in 1959 and an LL.B. degree in 1962. She was a Harkness Fellow between 1959 and 1961. Besides her undergraduate degrees, she also qualified with a M.A. degree. She continued her studies at Yale Law School earning a J.S.D. degree in 1962.[3]

Following her education Higgins was a practising barrister, and became a Queen's Counsel (QC) in 1986, and is a bencher of the Inner Temple. She was elected to the International Court of Justice on 12 July 1995, re-elected on 6 February 2000, and ended her second term on 6 February 2009.

Her professional appointments include:

Higgins is the author of several influential works on international law, including Problems and Process: International Law and How We Use It (1994). Despite delivering many balanced judgements in different cases, Higgin's dissenting opinion in the ICJ's advisory opinion on the Legality of the Threat or the Use of Nuclear Weapons has been widely criticised by some legal scholars, for it provides sovereign states with an unjustifiable amount of latitude in resort to the use of nuclear weapons in times of armed conflict.[4]

In October 2009 she was appointed advisor on International Law, to the British government's inquiry into the Iraq war (Headed by Sir John Chilcot).[5]

Titles, styles, honours and awardsEdit

Titles and stylesEdit

  • Miss Rosalyn Cohen (1937–1961)
  • Mrs Rosalyn Higgins (1961–1962)
  • Dr Rosalyn Higgins (1962-1978)
  • Prof. Dr Rosalyn Higgins (1978-1986)
  • Prof. Dr Rosalyn Higgins, QC (1986–1993)
  • Prof. Lady Higgins, QC (1993–1995)
  • Dame Rosalyn Higgins, DBE, QC (1995–1997)
  • The Right Honourable The Lady Higgins, DBE, QC (1997–present)
    • in International Court of Justice: Her Excellency Dame Rosalyn Higgins, DBE, QC (1995–2009)

Honours and awardsEdit

Higgins is a member of the Institut de droit international and became a Dame Commander of the Order of the British Empire (DBE) in 1995. In 1988 she was appointed a Knight of the French Order of Academic Palms. Furthermore, in 2007 she was awarded the Balzan Prize for International Law since 1945.

Her competence has been recognised by many academic institutions, having received at least thirteen honorary doctorates, as well as the Yale Law School Award of Merit[3] and also the Manley-O.-Hudson medal.



  1. ^ "Birthday's today". The Telegraph. 2 June 2011. Retrieved 31 May 2014. Dame Rosalyn Higgins, QC, President, International Court of Justice, 2006–09, 74
  2. ^"Was it any more difficult for her to be so critical in the Israel case because she is Jewish? 'I don't think so,' she says, stressing that she judged the case as an international lawyer and not because of her background. 'I also think that the fact you happen to be Jewish doesn't mean you think that everything the State of Israel does is right.'" When the Foreign Office put her name forward for election to the court, there were fears that some countries in the UN would not vote for a Jewish woman. She dismisses such concerns. "I don't think I have ever been perceived as Rosalyn Higgins, the Jewish international lawyer - and I hope not Rosalyn Higgins, the woman international lawyer."
  3. ^ a b Award of Merit - Yale alumni website
  4. ^ A. Anghie, Imperialism, Sovereignty and Making of International Law, (Cambridge, Cambridge University Press, 2005), p. 293
  5. ^

External linksEdit