Distinguished alumna Ertharin Cousin joins our Center Council

We are deeply honored to announce that one of our distinguished international law alumnae, Ertharin Cousin, has become a member of our Dean Rusk International Law Center Council.

Cousin has just completed a five-year term as Executive Director of the United Nations’ World Food Programme. In that role, she led the world’s largest humanitarian organization. Founded in 1961, WFP has more than 11,000 staffers, who combat hunger and food insecurity on behalf of more than 80 million persons in 82 countries. (credit for photo above)

She earned her J.D. degree from the University of Georgia School of Law in 1982. While here, she took international law classes with our Center’s namesake, Dean Rusk, who was a Georgia Law professor for many years after serving in the Kennedy and Johnson administrations as the United States’ second-longest-serving Secretary of State. Cousin also holds a B.A. degree from the University of Illinois at Chicago, and was one of the first women to graduate from Lane Tech, a prestigious and traditionally male-only public high school in the same city.

She returned to Georgia Law’s Athens campus last month to receive our alum association’s Distinguished Service Scroll Award. While here, she discussed her work at WFP and her ongoing commitment to end hunger to a group of students now enrolled in international law classes. Cousin stressed that even as direct food aid was provided in the short term, over the long term communities must be given opportunities to provided for themselves, remarking:

“I never met a mother in all the places I’ve visited who wanted to stand in line to feed her children.”

Anticipating her departure from WFP, which took place on April 4, Cousin told students that she planned to continue strategizing to bring an end to hunger as a Visiting Fellow at Stanford’s Freeman Spogli Institute. She said:

“I’m just changing chairs.”

Immediately before taking up the post at WFP, Cousin served in Rome, by appointment of President Barack Obama, as the U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations Agencies for Food and Agriculture, and as head of the U.S. Mission to the U.N. Agencies in Rome. Her career also included many private- and public-sector posts. During the centennial Olympic Games, held in 1996 in Atlanta, she served as Senior Advisor to Secretary of State Warren Christopher.

In becoming a member of the Dean Rusk International Law Center Council, Cousin joins other Georgia Law graduates, faculty members, and friends who advise and support the work of the Center.