During his 2L summer, Tor Krever ’12 traveled to The Hague as a Chayes International Public Service Fellow. Before law school, he had spent time in Cambodia and Sierra Leone, observing efforts toward post-war justice, and at HLS he enrolled in a seminar co-taught by current and former prosecutors at the International Criminal Court and the International Criminal Tribunal for the Former Yugoslavia. The seminar allowed him “to critique and debate prosecution strategies, and brought into sharp relief the importance of a strong defense counsel,” leading him to seek a placement at the Special Court for Sierra Leone. There, he assisted the defense team for Charles Taylor, the former president of Liberia, who was charged with war crimes and crimes against humanity for his involvement in Sierra Leone’s civil war.

A few months later, Krever arrived in the United Kingdom to participate in the Harvard Law School and University of Cambridge J.D./LL.M. Joint Degree Program. He took courses — or “read for papers,” as they say there — on the history and philosophy of international law, international human rights law, and the law of the World Trade Organization. Typically, he explains, an LL.M. student is assessed at the end of each paper through an exam, but they can choose in one of them to write a dissertation instead. His experience in The Hague inspired him to undertake this option for a fourth paper on international criminal law. “I was very much motivated by the work I had done the past summer. I had been struck by how political the whole process was, and it was very valuable for me to go from that experience directly into a space where I could think through my reactions to those circumstances.”

Today, Krever is at Cambridge again, as a University Assistant Professor in International Law in the Faculty of Law. The connection he makes between his work in The Hague and his LL.M. studies is part of a “recurring story” — of engaging with international issues, questioning what he learns, and taking the ideas that he explores in new directions — that he traces from his undergraduate studies at Harvard to this current role.

After college, he earned a Master of Philosophy in Development Studies at Cambridge. The program was interdisciplinary, drawing on sociology, economics, politics, international relations, and even questions of law (he published his research paper analyzing the efficacy of the U.S. Corrupt Practices Act in curbing the bribery of foreign officials by domestic corporations in the North Carolina Journal of International Law). More importantly, though, his studies “also exposed me to a lot of heterodox thinking. I realized that there were different schools of thought and sometimes you had to look a bit further to find them. That’s a lesson that has repeated itself, especially when it comes to law.”

As he considered what he might do next, Krever spent half a year at Australia’s Permanent Mission to the United Nations in New York, where he was tasked with negotiating several General Assembly resolutions on humanitarian and development issues, then another six months volunteering in Israel and Palestine with an Israeli human rights organization. “I was able to see some of the issues I had been exploring intellectually unfolding in a more concrete way, and to learn about others that had not been part of my formal education. I realized that through the lens of law, one could explore any number of social and political questions, but also that law itself was often implicated in the injustices with which I was confronted, be it in a UN committee meeting or occupied Palestinian territory.”

“I had a great experience at HLS,” he says. He wanted to be “rigorously trained in the law,” but with a view toward academia and writing, rather than practice, and he appreciated the flexibility that the law school offers. “Beyond that first year, I could really study whatever I wanted, and I did,” he notes, citing, as an example, a workshop with HLS Professor Christine Desan and Sven Beckert, a professor in Harvard’s history department, in which students from the law school and Ph.D. students in history examined the political economy of capitalism with a historical focus and through a legal lens.

The HLS-Cambridge J.D./LL.M. program, he says, was “always on [his] radar,” because he wanted to connect his earlier studies in international relations and development with the international aspects of his legal education, and because he felt it would help him pursue a Ph.D. in the UK and open the door to a professorship there. With this in mind, at HLS Professor David Kennedy’s suggestion, during his year in Cambridge Krever met with Professor Susan Marks, a scholar working in the critical and Marxist traditions, who would later supervise his Ph.D. in Law at the London School of Economics. At HLS, he had also met Teresa Almeida Cravo, a Ph.D. candidate at the University of Cambridge who was undertaking a fellowship at the Harvard Kennedy School, and studying in the UK would allow him to be closer to her. “That worked out well,” he notes, as they are now married, with two children.

Krever’s first academic appointment was at the University of Warwick, a public research university in the UK. At Warwick, he developed a course on international law, imperialism, and anti-imperialism, looking at their interrelationships over time and focusing on the national liberation movements of the twentieth century and the ways in which they tried to use and change international law to reflect their interests.

In his fifth year of teaching at Warwick, Krever came across some job postings from the University of Cambridge. One of the positions called for someone working on the history and theory of international law, who could teach a new LL.M. paper with a focus on decolonization, an opportunity that was “almost tailor-made” to his areas of expertise.

Krever is now employed by the university’s Faculty of Law, so his primary teaching role is lecturing, but he also has an appointment to Girton, one of the Cambridge colleges, where he’s involved in small-group supervisions, working with law students at the undergraduate level.

“Cambridge has a very strong international law program, and I’m learning a lot by engaging with colleagues with different perspectives,” he observes. (Krever is also a fellow at the university’s Lauterpacht Centre for International Law). This diversity, he notes, is also beneficial for his students. At the LL.M. level, most courses are team-taught; several faculty members give lectures, based on their interests and specializations. “I think this is good, because students get exposed to different teaching styles, approaches and ways of thinking about the subject matter. That’s something I appreciated when I was a student here.” This year, Krever’s lectures, across four LL.M.-level papers, have encompassed socio-economic rights; the history of human rights; justifications, rationales, and critiques of human rights; the law of armed conflict; and international criminal law.

He is also co-teaching a dissertation seminar on the history and theory of international law, through the lens of decolonization. In his seminar, all of the students are writing dissertations, and the format involves less lecturing and more discussion of various approaches to thinking and writing about the topic. The students like it, he notes, because it fosters an exchange of ideas and critical thinking about the texts they’ve been reading, and for Krever, it has been a good opportunity to collaborate closely with a colleague, Professor Surabhi Ranganathan, with whom he teaches the class.

In addition to teaching, Krever is continuing to pursue his own research and writing, including turning his Ph.D. dissertation — on the concept of the pirate in international law, historically and in contemporary arguments — into a book-length manuscript, and expanding his focus on the relationship between anti-imperialism and international law.

He has enjoyed connecting with the HLS students who are currently doing the joint J.D./LL.M. program, and strongly encourages other HLS students to consider it. “They need to go in knowing that it’s a very different academic experience. There’s a real focus on independent study, and one has to take a lot of initiative, but that can be rewarding. They can choose where they want to focus their reading, or explore a topic in more depth or through a particular theoretical lens. For someone who wants to do an independent research and writing project, there’s scope for that as well.”

“My LL.M. year at Cambridge was very influential, so it’s nice to come full circle and be back, but also to support LL.M. students, some of whom have an interest in academia as well.”

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