The Indiana University Board of Trustees has honored Ambassador Feisal al-Istrabadi with the Michael A. and Laurie Burns McRobbie Bicentennial Professorship in Global Strategic Studies. He was also granted tenure as Full Professor of Central Eurasian Studies in IU’s Hamilton Lugar School of Global and International Studies.
A double alumnus of Indiana University, Istrabadi was appointed Ambassador Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary and Deputy Permanent Representative of Iraq to the United Nations in 2004 and served in the Office of the Minister for Foreign Affairs from 2010 to 2012. Prior to his diplomatic appointment, he served as legal advisor to the Iraqi Minister for Foreign Affairs during the negotiations for U.N. Security Council Resolution 1546, which recognized the reassertion by Iraq of its sovereignty. He was also principal legal drafter of Iraq’s interim constitution, the Law of Administration of the State of Iraq for the Transitional Period, and principal author of its Bill of Fundamental Rights.
“Ambassador Istrabadi is one of our nation’s foremost experts on the process of building legal and political institutions in transitional and post-conflict societies across the world, including questions of constitutionalism, transitional justice and the various historical, cultural and political factors that impact democratization,” McRobbie said. “He is also a widely recognized authority on matters concerning law and justice in the Middle East and the effects of major events in the region on the global order.
“Laurie and I are extremely pleased that the professorship we endowed in the Hamilton Lugar School will both recognize and advance the teaching and research of one of IU’s most accomplished alumni scholars, while also furthering the school’s success in providing students with an education at the highest level in all aspects of international affairs and international studies.”
The McRobbie Bicentennial Professorship in Global Strategic Studies was established by IU President Michael A. McRobbie and IU First Lady Laurie Burns McRobbie in 2015 as part of a $1.5 million gift made to the university in support of the Bicentennial Campaign. The gift endowed the professorship and two others — one in the Luddy School of Computing, Informatics and Engineering and one in the Eskenazi School of Art, Architecture + Design.
“I can think of no one better suited to hold the inaugural Michael A. and Laurie Burns McRobbie Professorship,” said Ambassador Lee Feinstein, founding dean of the Hamilton Lugar School. “Amb. Istrabadi’s scholarship and diplomatic achievements have established him as a globally recognized authority on the challenges associated with Iraq’s constitutional trajectory and more, broadly, on the legal and governance challenges facing the region. He is as dedicated to his original research as he is to the classroom, where he is one of our most popular and respected teachers. This well-deserved appointment will leverage his knowledge and impact for the benefit of the Hamilton Lugar School and all of Indiana University. We are grateful to Michael and Laurie whose vision and generosity made this appointment possible.”
In 2010, Istrabadi became the founding director of the Hamilton Lugar School’s Center for the Study of the Middle East, a Title VI National Resource Center. He is also Professor of the Practice of International Law and Diplomacy in HLS and the Maurer School of Law. With this appointment, he will become a tenured Professor of Central Eurasian Studies. The Hamilton Lugar School’s Department of Central Eurasian Studies (CEUS) is a leading center of academic expertise on the vast heartland of Europe and Asia extending from Northern Europe to East Asia and from Lapland and Siberia to the Persian Gulf and the Himalayas.
CEUS Department Chair and Distinguished Professor Jamsheed Choksy said Istrabadi is a globally respected scholar who “will bring deep academic learning and valuable diplomatic experience to enhance the established fields of Iranian and Turkish studies, plus build up the emerging field of Persian Gulf studies at Indiana University.”
Istrabadi’s research focuses on the processes of building legal and political institutions in countries in transition from dictatorship to democracy. He brings a multi-disciplinary approach to studying the emergence of constitutionalism in such societies, including questions of timing and legitimacy, issues of transitional justice, and the political and cultural factors which influence the process of democratization. He was elected a Fellow of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences in 2015.
“President Michael A. McRobbie and First Lady Laurie Burns McRobbie, each in their respective roles, have been absolutely transformational in the years they have served the University and the State,” Istrabadi said. “It will be a privilege to have my name associated professionally with theirs through the professorship they have so generously endowed. I am honored to join the superb faculty of the Department of Central Eurasian Studies within the Hamilton Lugar School, which provides unique opportunities for our students to learn about the world, its languages, cultures, religions, literatures, politics, and global and international institutions. Such expertise is indispensable to understanding the nuances and complexities of the larger strategic issues, making CEUS a singularly appropriate venue for this professorship. I was a child when my family, fleeing Iraq, first arrived in Bloomington, where my late mother completed a PhD in what would today be the Hamilton Lugar School. I cannot adequately express in words what it means to me to receive this appointment, fifty-one years later.”
Before contributing to the reconstruction of Iraq, Istrabadi was a practicing trial lawyer focused on civil rights, employment discrimination, and constitutional torts. He also served as Senior Legal Fellow for Legal Reform and Development in the Arab World at the International Human Rights Law Institute at DePaul University’s College of Law in Chicago.