Professor Pieter Bekker

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Professor Pieter Bekker combines his research and teaching in International Law with an active practice as an advocate before international courts and tribunals. He was a member of the adjunct faculty at Columbia Law School in New York, where he was the first individual appointed to develop and teach a course on international investment law and arbitration between 2007 and 2011 and where he supervised written work in those areas. He holds peer review appointments by Cambridge University Press and Oxford University Press. 

Professor Bekker's scholarship 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.

Professor Bekker concentrates his practice on international dispute resolution, especially investment arbitration and sovereign disputes, and advice on public international law, in which he holds a doctorate. 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.

Professor Bekker also advises private and public sector clients, especially in the extractive industries, 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 the state-owned oil company of a Middle Eastern country in its claims against 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 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 located in The Hague. He has been involved in some 20 ICJ cases between sovereign States and served as Counsel to the International Fund for Agricultural Development in its advisory proceeding before the ICJ. Professor Bekker served as counsel and advocate for the Caribbean Regional Fisheries Mechanism, an intergovernmental body for fisheries cooperation comprising 17 Caribbean countries, in Case No. 21 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 has been selected by his peers as a New York "Super Lawyer" in the International and Alternative Dispute Resolution categories continuously since 2006. He was also 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 Dutch magazine Quote.

Professor Bekker earned his Master of Laws degree from Harvard Law School on a Fulbright grant, graduating in Barack Obama’s Class. He earned his Dutch Civil Law degree and his doctoral degree in international law from Leiden University in The Netherlands.

Professor Bekker is a member of the American Bar Association's Section of International Law (former chair, International Courts Committee); the American Society of International Law (former Executive Council and Nominating Committee member (elected)); the Institute for Transnational Arbitration; the International Chamber of Commerce (Commission on Arbitration and ADR); and the American and Dutch Branches of the International Law Association (Chair, Committee on Intergovernmental Settlement of Disputes (2008-2013).

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


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

View full research profile and publications


Transnational Legal Problems Facing Extractive Industries; International Arbitration