Michael Kelly
Michael J. Kelly
Senator Allen A. Sekt Endowed Chair in Law
Associate Dean for Faculty Research and International Programs
Professor of Law

Professor Kelly coordinates the International and Comparative Law Program and the GOAL Master’s Program at Creighton University School of Law. He is president of the U.S. National Chapter of L’Association International du Droit Pénal, a Paris-based society of international criminal law scholars, judges and attorneys founded in 1924 that enjoys consultative status with the United Nations. His research and teaching focuses on the fields of international and comparative law and Native American law. He is the author and co-author of five books and over thirty articles in these areas, and his widely-cited work is among the top 3% downloaded from the Social Science Research Network (SSRN).

Cuba Policy
After 55 years, American foreign policy is now changing with respect to Cuba. Professor Kelly has been on the front lines of that change as an expert on the international law of expropriations. Professor Kelly wrote the grant that USAID awarded to the School of Law calling for creation of a model Cuba/U.S. bilateral property claims settlement tribunal which can be used to settle the claims of companies and citizens whose property was confiscated by the Castro regime when it came to power in 1959. Professor Kelly and the team of six law and political science faculty tasked with building this model reported out their recommendations as a book on The Resolution of Outstanding Property Claims Between Cuba & the United States (Creighton University Press 2007). He testified in Congress in 2010 on this issue as it relates to lifting the embargo on Cuba.

Since the President’s December 2014 announced changes on Cuba policy, Professor Kelly and Creighton faculty have taken many interviews on this subject following up on a larger article in the Boston Globe, including those from Bloomberg, the Wall Street Journal, the Miami HeraldGlobe & Mail, Washington Post and Associated Press.

In addition to Cuba, Professor Kelly continues to consult with the Kurdish Regional Government in Iraq on federalism and constitutional issues, and develop the Law School’s summer abroad program in Nuremberg, Germany and The Hague. He also serves as Co-Chair with David Satola (World Bank) of the American Bar Association’s Task Force on Internet Governance, and served from 2012-2015 as a member of the President’s Advisory Committee on Global Engagement for the American Association of Law Schools (AALS).

  • B.A., J.D., Indiana University
  • LL.M. Georgetown University
  • Comparative Constitutional Law
  • European Union Law
  • Independent Directed Study in International / Comparative Law
  • International Criminal Law
  • International Environmental Law
  • International Law
  • National Security and Foreign Relations Law
  • Native American Law

I seek to draw students into their material in personal ways. I often employ role-play pedagogy in the classroom to get them to appreciate variant perspectives on diverse legal topics. I also like to supplement class with field trips where possible, for example, taking the Native American Law class to the Winnebago reservation to sit in on tribal court, or having the International Criminal Law class in Germany each summer visit Auschwitz. I also want students to understand the development of law in a broader social context and not completely divorced from policy considerations.

My goal for every class to see at least one student experience an ‘aha!’ moment. I’m the lucky one who gets to witness the understanding wash over their face. But that sudden understanding has to be combined with a sense of discovery on the part of the student. If I just lecture to them and tell them all the answers, then that discovery element is lost. So I focus on class discussion in each of my courses and I lead the class to facilitate more discussion. I’m happy to say, I reach my goal most every day I teach.

  • THE INTERNATIONAL LAW OF DISASTER RELIEF (David D. Caron, Michael J. Kelly & Anastasia Telesetsky eds., 2014).

Principle grant writer, resulting in $750,000 grant from USAID’s Cuba Program to study property claims issues between Cuba and the United States

  • Michael J. Kelly, The Parameters of Vicarious Corporate: Criminal Liability for Genocide Under International Law, in INTERNATIONAL LAW IN THE NEW AGE OF GLOBALIZATION 321 (Andrew Byrnes, Mika Hayashi & Christopher Michaelsen eds., 2013).
  • Michael J. Kelly, The Status of Victims Under the Rome Statute of the International Criminal Court, in VICTIMS OF INTERNATIONAL CRIMES : AN INTERDISCIPLINARY DISCOURSE 47 (Thorsten Bonacker & Christoph Safferling eds., 2013).
  • Michael J. Kelly & Rick Witmer, Resolution of Outstanding Property Claims between Cuba and the United States, in 18 CUBA IN TRANSITION 63 (2008).
  • Michael J. Kelly, Just War from a Legal Perspective: Response to O’Neill, in JOURNAL OF RELIGION & SOCIETY SUPPLEMENT 4 92 (Dennis Hamm & Gail S. Risch, eds., 2008).
  • Donald M. McKale, Nazis After Hitler, How Perpetrators of the Holocaust Cheated Justice and Truth (Rowman & Littlefield 2012), 27 Holocaust & Genocide Studies (Oxford Journal) 344 (Spring 2013).
  • Fourth Biennial Four Societies Conference, Boalt Hall, Berkeley, California (Sept. 2012), commenter on paper workshop re: “International Law Governing Transnational Disasters,” co-sponsored by the American, Japanese, Canadian and Australian/New Zealand Societies of International Law.
  • “Benefits of Amici Curiae by National Groups” presentation to the secretariat of AIDP, at L’Ecole des Avocats, Ile de Citie, Paris (June 2012).
  • “Cuba’s Future: Prospects and Challenges for the 21st Century” at University of Nebraska, Omaha (Feb. 25, 2011) panel with Jonathan Benjamin Alvarado, Jorge R. Pinon, Gregory Petrow, Richard Witmer, and Arturo Lopez-Levy.
  • “International Law in Crisis opening panel discussion” (Cleveland, OH) symposium, Case Western Reserve University, Cleveland, Ohio (Sep. 2011).
  • “The Status of Victims under the Rome Statute of the ICC”, at Phillips University, Marburg Germany conference on victims’ rights (Oct. 2011).
  • “The New Constitutionalism in Iraq and Kurdistan: Presidential Power versus Prime Ministerial Power” with Jens Meierhenrich (LSE) at Suleymaneyah, Iraq PUK party headquarters conference (May 2011).
  • “Legal Issues Concerning the Trial of Adolf Eichmann” Joint CLE discussion with Justice Gabriel Bach at Kutak Rock law firm (Sep. 2011). 
  • “Corporate Liability for Genocide” paper presented at Third Biennial Four Societies Conference, Awaji Island, Japan (August 2010), co-sponsored by the American, Japanese, Canadian and Australian/New Zealand Societies of International Law.
  • “Crimes Against Humanity Treaty Development Process” (Washington D.C.) Brookings Institution Conference on the development of a new crimes against humanity treaty (March 2010). 
  • “Property Rights in the Context of Lifting the U.S. Embargo Against Cuba” (Washington DC) Testimony before the House Ways & Means Committee (April 2010).
  • “Use of the Command Responsibility Doctrine to Prosecute Corporations for Genocide” (Atlanta, GA) Emory Law School symposium on international criminal law (April 2010).
  • “Commemoration of the Children’s Massacre” at Halabja, Iraq memorial service; remarks on behalf of AIDP supporting investigation into historical atrocities committed by the regime of Saddam Hussein and prosecution of the perpetrators (April 2010).
  • The Historical Development of Native American Law” (Lincoln, NE) Lecture for the Nebraska State Bar Foundation to 100 Nebraska high school history teachers (July 2010). 
  • “The Development of a New ‘Lawfare’ Paradigm in Law and Policy” (Cleveland, OH) Moderator for panel at Lawfare! Conference, Case Western Reserve University, Cleveland, Ohio (Sept. 2010).
  • “Creighton’s Report on Property Claims in Cuba” (Barcelona, Spain) presentation to the Catalan Bank, Praedium LLC, and 1898 Cuba Group on Creighton’s findings and the adaptability of our report to the Spanish situation (Dec. 2010).
  • China’s Blue Water Ambitions and the Law of the Sea, JURIST (Oct. 4, 2012)
  • Iraq 2003 to 2013: A Tragedy in Three Acts, JURIST (Dec. 16, 2011)
  • The President Does Not Need Congressional Approval for Libya No-Fly Zone (Yet), JURIST (March 22, 2011)
  • Michael J. Kelly, Cuba: Taking the Long View to Find a Better Place, CREIGHTON LAW., Fall 2015, at 14.
  • David Satola & Michael J. Kelly, Internet Governance Overview: How Snowden Didn’t Really Change Anything After All, BUS. L. TODAY, Nov. 2014, http://www.americanbar.org/publications/blt/2014/11/01_satola.html.
  • Michael J. Kelly, The Pre-History of Piracy as a Crime & Its Definitional Odyssey, 46 CASE W. RES.J. INT’L L. 25 (2013).
  • Never Again? – Complicity of German Chemical Corporations in the Kurdish Genocide, 31 Berkeley Journal of International Law (2013)
  • United States’ Ratification of the Law of the Sea Convention: Securing Our Navigational Future While Managing China’s Blue Water Ambitions, 45 Case Western Journal of Int’l Law 461 (2012).
  • Prosecuting Corporations for Genocide under International Law, 6 Harvard Law & Policy Review 339 (2012).
  • Ending Corporate Impunity for Genocide: The Case Against China’s State-Owned Petroleum Company in Sudan, 90 Oregon Law Review 413 (2011).
  • The Debate Over Genocide in Darfur, Sudan, 18 U.C. Davis Journal of Int’l Law & Policy 205 (Winter 2011).
  • The Evolution of International Law: Arcs and Cycles, 44 Case Western Res. Journal of Int’l Law 1 (2011).
  • Grafting the Command Responsibility Doctrine onto Corporate Criminal Liability for Atrocities, 24 Emory International Law Review 671 (2010).
  • The Status of Corporations in the Travaux Préparatoires of the Genocide Convention: The Search for Personhood, 43 Case Western Reserve Journal of Int’l Law 483 (2010).
  • The Kurdistan Regional Constitution Within the Framework of the Iraqi Federal Constitution:  A Struggle for Sovereignty, Oil and Ethnic Identity, 114 Penn State Law Review 707 (2010).
  • Rethinking the Security Architecture of North East Asia, 41 Victoria University of Wellington Law Review (NZ) 273 (2010), with Sean M. Watts.