The Academy of European Law was founded in 1990 by the late Professor Antonio Cassese and Professor Joseph H.H. Weiler to promote teaching and scholarship in the fields of European Union Law and Human Rights Law.
The link between these two fields is symbiotic, in the sense that the European Union needs a strong human rights foundation, and because the evolution of human rights law has been affected by developments within Europe. The two fields are thus of vital importance for the evolution of the legal and institutional framework within which the European political entity is emerging.
Prof. Cassese held the Chair of International Law at the EUI and was, among his other responsibilities, first President of the Committee for the Prevention of Torture established by the European Convention for the Prevention of Torture and Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment. He was subsequently elected a Judge (1993-2000) and was the first President (1993-1997) of the International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia. He was chairperson of the UN International Commission of Enquiry into Violations of Human Rights and Humanitarian Law in Darfur (2004) and was later appointed President of the Special Tribunal for Lebanon (2009-2011).
Prof. Weiler held the Chair in European Community Law at the EUI until 1985 and has continued his association with the Institute ever since. After a long period in the US, most recently at New York University where he held the European Union Jean Monnet Chair, Prof. Weiler was the President of the EUI from 2013 to 2016.
Other former Directors of the Academy are Professors Philip Alston, Loïc Azoulai, Gráinne de Búrca, Bruno de Witte, Francesco Francioni, Renaud Dehousse and Francis Snyder.