Jeremy Levitt

Candid Reflections from the former International Technical Advisor of the Liberian Truth and Reconciliation Commission

February 18, 2010 – 4:00 pm – Wesemann Hall

Jeremy Levitt


Associate Dean for International Programs and Professor of International Law
Florida A&M University College of Law
Ph.D., International Studies, University of Cambridge, St. John’s College
J.D., University of Wisconsin-Madison
B.A., Arizona State University


Professor Jeremy Levitt is Associate Dean for International Programs and Distinguished Professor of International Law at Florida A&M University College of Law in Orlando, Florida, and a law professor at Florida International University College of Law in Miami, Florida. Dr. Levitt is a public international lawyer, political scientist, historian, and Africanist with expertise and publications in the law of the use of force, humanitarian law, human rights law, transitional justice, international organizations, democratization, African politics, state dynamics and regional collective security. He is also an expert in African-American history, politics and Diaspora studies. Professor Levitt is a scholar-practitioner that has demonstrated a talent for teaching, passion for human rights advocacy, zeal for legal and multidisciplinary scholarship and strong commitment to public service.

Professor Levitt presently serves as the International Technical Advisor for the Liberian Truth and Reconciliation Commission (TRC). He was nominated and appointed by the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights and Ellen Johnson-Sirleaf, President of the Republic of Liberia, respectively. Johnson is Africa’s first democratically-elected female president. According to the TRC Act, ITAC members must be “persons of international distinction and repute.” The purpose of the TRC is to promote national peace, security, unity and reconciliation by investigating gross human rights and humanitarian law violations including massacres, sexual violations, murder, extra-judicial killings and economic crimes between January 1979 and October 14, 2003, and determine who is most responsible for committing such violations and abuses and their impact on Liberian society.

Professor Levitt has traveled, researched or worked in twenty-seven African countries. He formerly served as Senior Legal Consultant to the Principal Defender’s Office at the Sierra Leone war crimes tribunal (Special Court for Sierra Leone) and Senior Legal Advisor to The Carter Center’s rule of law projects in Liberia. Dr. Levitt has, among other things, worked as a diplomatic trainee with the State Department, Bureau for African Affairs, in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, and as a legal aide to the Constitutional Assembly of the Parliament of the Republic of South Africa during the country’s constitutional making process. He has served as a consultant or technical expert to various institutions including: The World Bank Group, Directorate- Operational Policy and Country Systems; World Bank Institute; International Commission on Intervention and State Sovereignty; and UN High Commission for Refugees.

During the summer of 2005, Dr. Levitt was a Visiting Fellow at the world renowned Lauterpacht Research Center for International Law at Cambridge University. Prior to joining the legal academy, Professor Levitt served as Special Assistant to the Managing Director for Global Human and Social Development at The World Bank Group in Washington, D.C., and held a variety of global-orientated positions in the public and private sectors. In 1999-2000, he served as an International Affairs Fellow at the Center for International Development and Conflict Management (CIDCM) at the University of Maryland-College Park.

In the past nine years since entering the legal academy, Dr. Levitt has authored one book and edited three, written numerous law review and other articles. Professor Levitt recently co-edited a comprehensive text with Matthew C. Whitaker titled, HURRICANE KATRINA: AMERICA’S UNNATURAL DISASTER (University of Nebraska Press 2009), and completed a groundbreaking edited volume, AFRICA: MAPPING NEW BOUNDARIES IN INTERNATIONAL LAW (Hart Publishing, 2008). His book, THE EVOLUTION OF DEADLY CONFLICT IN LIBERIA: FROM ‘PATERNALTARIANISM’ TO STATE COLLAPSE (Carolina Academic Press, 2005) has been highly praised as “original” and the “definitive work on the causes of Liberia’s cycle of deadly conflict” by noted political scientists and international lawyers. He is currently working on another original work examining the legality of power-sharing in peace agreements titled, ILLEGAL PEACE?: AN INQUIRY INTO THE LEGALITY OF POWERSHARING WITH AFRICAN WARLORDS AND REBELS (Forthcoming: Cambridge University Press, 2009).

Dr. Levitt was a Term Member of the New York-based Council on Foreign Relations, the US’ premier think tank on world affairs, and is a Patron of the American Society of International Law (ASIL). He has been a frequent source for the national and international media, including, among others, Fox-News Live, BET Nightly News, National Public Radio and the Chicago-Tribune, and was a regular contributor to the Chicago Sun-Times. In October 2008, Dr. Levitt replaced Roland Martin as the morning host on WVON AM-1690, “The Talk of Chicago”, as host of the “Professor Jeremy Levitt Show,” which focused on the most pressing and controversial issues confronting both Chicago and global society.

Professor Levitt is a sought after speaker in the United States and abroad.