Professor Pieter Bekker

Professor in Public International Law

Energy Environment and Society, School of Humanities, Social Sciences and Law

CEPMLP, Energy Environment and Society

Portrait photo of Peter Bekker
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Professor Pieter Bekker, who has been CEPMLP Chair in International Law since 2011, combines his research and teaching in International Law with an active practice as an advocate in cases before international courts and tribunals, enabling him to profit from his practical insights in his scholarly work as a researcher and an instructor.

He was previously a member of the adjunct faculty at Columbia Law School in New York City, where he was the first individual appointed to develop and teach a course on international investment law and arbitration between 2007 and 2011. He is Founding Director of the Dundee Ocean and Lake Frontiers Initiative and Neutrals (DOLFIN), an innovative interdisciplinary know-how platform dedicated to the interconnected legal and geo-scientific aspects of maritime boundary delimitation.  Read a recent DOLFIN output.

Professor Bekker's scholarly work focuses on the International Court of Justice (ICJ), the law of international organisations, the law of the sea, transnational law, the regulation of cross-border investment, and the resolution of disputes between foreign investors and host States through arbitration. For his 2022 article styled ‘The Human Impact of Defiance of International Law’, published by Harvard University’s Advanced Leadership Initiative.

In his international law practice, Professor Bekker focuses on international dispute resolution, especially investment arbitration and sovereign disputes, and advice regarding issues of public international law, in which he holds a doctoral degree. He is a member of the Bars of the State of New York and of the Supreme Court of the United States of America.

In international arbitration matters, he draws upon a particularly rich background: he was educated and has practiced, in both Europe and the United States, in civil law, common law and public international law, the legal systems on which international arbitral law and procedure are based.  He is a Member of the Permanent Court of Arbitration (PCA) in The Hague and he has been designated to the rosters of conciliators and arbitrators under Annex VII to the UN Convention on the Law of the Sea.  He has been selected by the European Commission for inclusion in the lists of trade and sustainable development (TSD) experts and of arbitrators suitable for appointment in bilateral disputes under the European Union’s trade and investment agreements with third countries.

Professor Bekker also advises private and public sector clients, including in the energy sector, on a wide range of issues relating to private and public international law, including issues of jurisdiction, immunity, enforcement, expropriation, environmental law, the law of the sea, treaty law, and State responsibility. He has particular experience in matters involving sovereign parties, including States, state-owned entities, and international organisations, before both domestic and international courts and arbitral tribunals. For example, he represented Saudi Aramco, the state-owned oil company of the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, in its war reparation claims against the Republic of Iraq before the United Nations Compensation Commission. He has negotiated treaties for foreign governments in high-stakes cases. For example, he assisted Ukraine in drafting and negotiating treaties with Israel and Russia settling legal issues arising from the accidental shooting down of a Russian airliner over the Black Sea in 2001. He has advised a number of oil companies regarding their rights and obligations under international law and in their dealings with States and state-owned entities.

A native of The Netherlands, Professor Bekker was briefly in private practice in Amsterdam before serving for nearly three years as a staff lawyer in the Registry of the International Court of Justice (ICJ), the principal judicial organ of the United Nations seated in The Hague, The Netherlands. He has been involved in some 20 ICJ cases between sovereign States. He served as Counsel to the UN’s International Fund for Agricultural Development (IFAD) in its special advisory proceeding in the Global Mechanism Case and as Counsel to the Islamic Republic of Pakistan in the Nuclear Disarmament Case before the ICJ. Professor Bekker served as counsel and advocate for the Caribbean Regional Fisheries Mechanism (CRFM), an intergovernmental body for fisheries cooperation comprising 17 Caribbean countries, in Case 21 (IUU fishing activities) before the International Tribunal for the Law of the Sea (ITLOS) in Hamburg, the Tribunal's first-ever advisory proceeding.

Professor Bekker is a 2005 recipient of the Burton Award for Legal Achievement (Excellence in Legal Writing). He was named to the first edition of ‘Who's Who in Public International Law’ in 2007.

Professor Bekker has commented on international law topics on radio and television in the United States and Europe, including for the BBC and al-Jazeera English TV. He has served as a commentator on FOX News TV and has been featured in the New York Law Journal, The Times (London) (as Lawyer of the Week), the Wall Street Journal and The Economist.

Professor Bekker earned his Master of Laws degree from Harvard Law School on a Fulbright grant. He earned his Dutch civil law degree and his doctoral degree in international law from Leiden University in The Netherlands.  His doctoral thesis entitled ‘The Legal Position of Intergovernmental Organizations’ was endorsed in a Foreword by Sir Robert Yewdall Jennings, President of the International Court of Justice, contained in the commercial edition of the thesis published by Martinus Nijhoff Publishers in 1994.

Professor Bekker is a member of the American Society of International Law (Co-Chair, Law of the Sea Interest Group (elected); former Executive Council and Nominating Committee member (elected); the American Bar Association's Section of International Law (former chair, International Courts Committee); the Association of the Bar of the City of New York; the Association of International Energy Negotiators; and the American and Dutch Branches of the International Law Association (Chair, Committee on Intergovernmental Settlement of Disputes, 2008-2013).  He is a founding member of the International Arbitration Club of New York.

Professor Bekker's working languages are English, Dutch, German and French and he also reads Spanish.


International Court of Justice; Law of intergovernmental organisations; International investment law and arbitration; Law of the sea and maritime boundary delimitation.

View full research profile and publications


International Law and Energy Disputes; International Arbitration: Practical Exercises

Media availability

I am available for media commentary on my research.

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Areas of expertise

  • America
  • Climate change
  • Energy
  • Global politics
  • Human rights
  • Just transition
  • Politics
  • Sustainability