In passing: David Caron (1952-2018)

The sudden news of the passing of my dear friend and colleague, Dr. David Caron, fills me with sad thoughts and happy memories.

Years ago, when I was starting out in international law, David – then a chaired professor at Berkeley, the law school an hour’s drive from my own – was a pillar of support. He was the 1st scholar to accept my invitation to speak at the 1st conference I organized, anchoring debate on “Reconstruction after Iraq” and publishing in our Cal-Davis journal an important analysis of claims commissions as a transitional justice tool.

Warm and witty, David once sent me a handwritten note of thanks for the “lovely bouquet” of pre-tenure reprints he’d received from me.

Both of us transplants from Back East, David and I shared an enthusiasm for California and enjoyed helping to cultivate a close-knit Left Coast international law community – even as we took part in events and activities across the globe.

David’s achievements truly are too numerous to mention. Among many other things, he was an inspiring President of the American Society of International Law, from 2010 to 2012. About the time he completed that term, he took emeritus status at Berkeley, and he and his wife, Susan Spencer, embarked on new adventures – 1st as Law Dean at King’s College London.  (A distinguished international arbitration specialist (see GAR obituary here), he had practiced at London’s 20 Essex Street Chambers since 2009. David, a proud graduate of the U.S. Coast Guard Academy, also was a noted expert on the law of the sea.) In 2016, he was appointed a member of  the Iran-United States Claims Tribunal.

It was in this last capacity that I last saw David. The Global Governance Summer School sponsored by my current institution, the Dean Rusk International Law Center at the University of Georgia School of Law, brought us to The Hague not many months ago. The highlight of our legal-institution briefings was the half-day we spent as David’s guests in the lovely mansion that houses this 37-year-old claims tribunal. (It was not his 1st visit with Georgia Law students; David took part in our International Colloquium in 2008, and in the ASIL Midyear Meeting we hosted in 2012.)

With breaks for tea and biscuits – David was ever the gracious host – our students were treated to a candid discussion between David and Dr. Hossein Piran, Senior Legal Adviser. The two had served as tribunal law clerks years earlier, and the respect they showed one another provided an invaluable lesson about the promise of civil discourse and of the pacific settlement of international disputes.

That lesson is a most fitting way to commemorate David’s passing.

Pictured above, during our June 2017 visit to the Iran-U.S. Claims Tribunal, front from left: Ana Morales Ramos, Legal Adviser; Hossein Piran, Senior Legal Adviser; Kathleen A. Doty, Director of Georgia Law’s Dean Rusk International Law Center; David Caron, Tribunal Member; and Georgia Law Professor Diane Marie Amann, Faculty Co-Director of the Dean Rusk International Law Center. Back row, students Nicholas Duffey, Lyddy O’Brien, Brian Griffin, Wade Herring, Jennifer Cotton, Evans Horsley, Casey Callaghan, Kristopher Kolb, Nils Okeson, James Cox, and Ezra Thompson. This tribute is cross-posted from Diane Marie Amann.

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