Professor Milena Sterio, the Charles R. Emrick Jr. - Calfee Halter & Griswold Professor of Law, has been named Distinguished Professor of Law by the Provost of Cleveland State University. The title of Distinguished Professor is the highest honor conferred by the University, and is awarded to only one professor per year across the University.
In her seventeen years at CSU|LAW, Professor Sterio built a scholarly reputation as an established scholar in the field of International Law, with an exemplary record of productivity and influence. Her research focuses on international legal theory, such as international relations, statehood and secession issues, as well as on international criminal law, with a focus on maritime piracy. She has published seven books and more than 50 scholarly articles, essays, and book chapters. Her articles have appeared in top-ranked international law journals, such as the Minnesota Journal of International Law, the Brooklyn Journal of International Law, the Fordham Journal of International Law, and the Connecticut Journal of International Law, as well as in mainstream law reviews, such as the American University Law Review. She has also published in peer-reviewed European law journals, such as the Baltic Yearbook of International Law and the Amsterdam Law Forum.
Professor Sterio’s impact in the field of international law goes far beyond her extensive scholarship. She is actively involved in many high-profile international law projects involving subjects including the International Criminal Court, the Russian invasion of Ukraine, the Syrian conflict, and the Rohyinga refugee crisis. Her recent work includes the following:
- In June 2022, Professor Sterio testified before the U.S. Senate Foreign Relations Committee, at a hearing titled “The Path Forward On U.S.-Syria Policy: Strategy And Accountability.” Professor Sterio’s testimony focused on mechanisms for accountability for atrocities committed by the Syrian government and non-state actors in the ongoing Syrian conflict.
- Professor Sterio, with a group of experts convened under the auspices of the Public International Law and Policy Group, submitted observations as Amici Curiae to the Appeals Chamber of the International Criminal Court in the Case of the Prosecutor v. Dominic Ongwen. Professor Sterio appeared before the ICC in The Hague in February 2022 to present these observations. The ICC Appeals Chamber generally adopted the position advanced by Professor Sterio, citing the PILPG amicus brief with approval six times in the Court’s judgement.
- Professor Sterio chaired two meetings at the U.S. Department of State, Office of Global Criminal Justice, in November 2022, focused on the establishment of a single residual mechanism for all international criminal tribunals and one the International Criminal Court’s Trust Fund for Victims.
- In November 2022, Professor Sterio led a series of trainings for Ukrainian civil society organizations, including the Nobel Peace Prize-winning Center for Civil Liberties. The trainings focus on core international crimes, such as genocide, crimes against humanity, war crimes, and aggression, the prosecution of such crimes, as well as defenses available to individuals accused of such crimes. In addition, Professor Sterio has been advising the Ukrainian Ministry of Foreign Affairs on building international support and advocacy for the need for accountability for Russian leaders.
- In May 2022, Professor Sterio traveled to Cox’s Bazar, Bangladesh, as part of her work on a large human rights documentation project involving the Rohingya refugee community. Professor Sterio has been working on behalf of the Public International Law and Policy Group on documenting human rights abuses which were committed against the Rohingya ethnic group in Myanmar, by Myanmar authorities. Professor Sterio visited the refugee camp, which houses more than one million Rohingya refugees, and engaged in a workshop with a group of Rohingya refugees at the camp. The workshop focused on best documentation practices and lessons learned from prior documentation efforts.
- In March 2022, Professor Sterio participated in a briefing on the topic of Ukraine (accountability and documentation) for members of the U.S. Senate Foreign Relations Committee.
- In May 2021, Professor Sterio attended the first round of peace negotiations between the Government of Sudan and one of the Sudan rebel movements, the Sudan People’s Liberation Movement (SPLM)-North, in Juba, South Sudan. Professor Sterio provided legal expertise and guidance for the ongoing negotiations, as an academic expert and representative of the Public International Law and Policy Group.
- In October 2020, Professor Sterio and three other law professors filed a lawsuit against the U.S. Government over Executive Order 13928, an order issued by President Trump that authorized economic sanctions and civil and criminal penalties against those who support the International Criminal Court. In January 2021, the court granted the plaintiffs an injunction against the enforcement of this order, acknowledging that the order was likely unconstitutional. On April 1, 2021, President Biden revoked E.O. 13928 and then settled the lawsuit brought by Professor Sterio and her co-plaintiffs, agreeing not to impose any penalties against the plaintiffs for conduct described in their lawsuit.
- Professor Sterio has engaged with the International Criminal Court as an expert on the issue of prosecuting crimes of gender persecution; she is currently working with the ICC’s Office of the Prosecutor on further developing and implementing its policy on the prosecution of these crimes.
Professor Sterio also has an active profile on prestigious academic blogs – she serves as one of six main editors of Intlawgrrls (www.ilg2.org), an academic blog devoted to a discussion of international law and policy issues. She is editor of the maritime piracy blog, Communis Hostis Omnium (www.piracy-law.com). She has contributed blog posts to other wellknown academic blogs in the field of international law in the United States and in Europe, such as Just Security (www.justsecurity.org), Opinio Juris (www.opiniojuris.org), EjilTalk! (www.ejiltalk.org) and Oxford Human Rights Hub (http://ohrh.law.ox.ac.uk/blog/).
She has presented her scholarship at prestigious legal conferences in the United States and abroad, in places such as Copenhagen, Denmark, The Hague, Netherlands, Jerusalem, Israel, Ankara, Turkey, Rome, Italy, and Belgrade, Serbia. She has chaired International Law Weekend, one of the most prominent international law conferences in the United States, which takes place every October in New York City. In 2018, she became President of the American Chapter of the “Association of Droit International Penal” (International Criminal Law Association – a prominent international group of scholars and experts in International Criminal Law). In 2019, she received the CSU Faculty Scholarship Initiative Award; pursuant to the terms of this award, she conducted research on the role of women as judges at international criminal tribunals.