Professor David D. Caron, a prominent international law academic and arbitrator, former professor at Berkeley and professor and former dean of the Dickson Poon School of Law at King’s College in London, died unexpectedly on 20 February 2018 after being admitted to an hospital in London. Members of PIL Advisory Group have learned with great sadness of the passing of Professor Caron. As a matter of fact, some of our members had a chance to know him and exchange with him on law of the sea issues, particularly on the occasion of a conference held in London on ‘Stress Testing the Law of the Sea, Dispute Resolution, Disasters and New Challenges’ jointly hosted by the Transnational Law Institute at King’s College London and the Berkeley Law of the Sea Institute, in 2016.

Caron was born on 28 June 1952 in Hartford. He ‎attended the U.S. Coast Guard Academy, graduated with High Honors with emphases in Physics and Political Science and as Commander of the Corp of Cadets in 1974. He served first in the Arctic as the Navigator and Salvage Diving Officer aboard the US Coast Guard Cutter Polar Star and second in San Francisco as the Assistant Chief of the Marine Environmental Protection Service for California. He received a medal for his achievements and resigned from the service as a lieutenant in 1979. In 1979 Caron was a Fulbright Scholar to the United Kingdom attending the University of Wales and receiving a Master’s degree in Marine Law and Policy. He then studied law at the University of California, Berkeley graduating Order of the Coif, as Editor in Chief of Ecology Law Quarterly and as co-recipient of the Thelen Marrin Prize for outstanding student scholarship in 1983. It was around this time that he moved to The Hague, where he worked as a legal assistant at the Iran-United States Claims Tribunal from 1983 to 1986 (with Judges Richard M Mosk and Charles N Brower), and earned an international law diploma at The Hague Academy of International Law.

Professor Caron taught at Berkeley Law from 1987 to 2013, gaining a reputation as a warm and generous peer and teacher, as well as a prolific writer. He became dean at Dickson Poon School of Law at King’s College in London in 2013. He continued there as a professor after leaving the deanship in 2016. He was active in a number of fora, serving inter alia as a member of the World Economic Forum’s Global Agenda Council on the Rule of Law, as a member of the Executive Council of the American Bar Association Section on International law, a member of the US Department of State Advisory Committee on Public International Law, Co-Director of the Law of the Sea Institute, Co-Director of Berkeley’s Miller Institute on Global Challenges and the Law, and as member of the Board of Editors of the American Journal of International Law.

Professor Caron was also extremely active in international dispute settlement, having joined the arbitration chambers at London’s 20 Essex Street in 2009. He served as an arbitrator, lead counsel, and expert in private and public proceedings, including commercial arbitration administered by the International Chamber of Commerce (ICC), as well as investor-State arbitration (ICSID, NAFTA). He was a member of the UN Compensation Commission for claims arising out of the 1990 Gulf War. In 2015, the U.S. government appointed him as a judge at the Iran-US Claims Tribunal (IUSCT) in The Hague, where he also sat as an ad hoc judge‎ at the International Court of Justice. He served as counsel for the Marshall Islands Nuclear Claims Tribunal, which decided compensation claims arising from U.S. nuclear testing in the South Pacific. Just one week before his passing, he was in The Hague presiding over a dispute between the U.S. and Iran related to decades-old foreign military sales contracts.

Professor Caron was a noted law of the sea expert and scholar, and was instrumental in bringing to Berkeley the Law of the Sea Institute, an internationally recognized forum for ocean law scholarship and analysis. He wrote extensively on legal issues of ocean governance, including on those arising from climate change and sea level rise. In 2015 Professor Caron was appointed as Judge ad hoc at the ICJ for the ‘Alleged Violations of Sovereign Rights and Maritime Spaces in the Caribbean Sea Case between Nicaragua and Colombia’. The income derived from the work was pledged by Professor Caron and his family to King’s in the form of a donation to The Dickson Poon School of Law’s Student Hardship Fund.

Sources: King's College London; Berkeley Law; statement of ASIL; Image from Wikimedia at