Blacks of the American Society of International Law

Blacks of the American Society of International Law (BASIL) grew out of a call issued to the Society in April 2014 by its then newly installed Honorary President Gabrielle Kirk McDonald, Henry Richardson, Adrien Wing, and Jeremy Levitt, to increase the number and influence of Blacks in the Society and in international law generally. Then ASIL President Lori Damrosch responded with the creation of BASIL, as part of her Inclusion Initiative for the Society. BASIL was launched in the fall of 2014 and is now co-chaired by Adejoké Babington-Ashaye and Darin Johnson. The group has a diverse membership comprised of 38 practitioners and professors of law.

ASIL is looking for a fellow who will provide support to ASIL's Blacks of the American Society of International Law (BASIL). Fellows work under the direct supervision of ASIL's deputy executive director and are responsible for implementing a number of the Society's research, education, and outreach programs. Please click here for full details.


The primary purpose of BASIL will be to affirm, fortify and evolve the long-standing tradition of Black international lawyers, jurists and academics in the United States. This will be done by: (1) designating ASIL as an international research hub and digital repository on Blacks and international law, i.e. establishing a "Blacks in International Law Research and Repository Program" (BILRRP); and (2) establishing a Black students and junior professionals outreach platform aimed at exponentially increasing the number of Black international law students, lawyers and academics. Blacks shall be defined as individuals of "African descent and/or African heritage."

The BILRRP will support the collection and management of scholarly information resources of enduring value to Black internationalists and the enduring involvement of Blacks in international law. It will also identify international legal issues of special concern to Blacks in the United States, and then conduct, sponsor or otherwise promote research, discussion and debate on these issues, and promote public education about international law while stressing the relevance of that law to the problems and concerns of Blacks in the United States and beyond. The Black students and junior professionals outreach platform will foster communication, information-sharing, cooperation and networking among Blacks in international law; work to expand career opportunities for Black students and junior professionals in the field of international law through the development of a BASIL internship at Tillar House, a fellowship program akin to the Helton Fellows initiative with a career mentorship component. The outreach platform would also host an annual career fair at Tillar House aimed at increasing the number of Black international lawyers. This would ideally be supported by an outreach coordinator within ASIL.

Blacks in ASIL

There are approximately 100 Black members of ASIL. The Society's first Black president was Clyde Ferguson, who served from 1978 to 1980. Mélida Hodgson is the first Black woman to be elected ASIL President-elect. Goler T. Butcher was the first Black vice president of the Society. She effectively paved the way for subsequent Blacks to become vice president of the Society, including Henry Richardson, Adrien Wing, Makau Mutua, Chantal Thomas, Mélida Hodgson, Anna Spain Bradley, and Catherine Powell. Dapo Akande was the first Black to be elected to the board of the American Journal of International Law (AJIL), followed two years later by Henry Richardson, James Gathii, Natalie Reid, Dapo Akande, and Catherine Powell as the first group of Blacks to be elected to the AJIL board. Having been the first African American elected to the AJIL Board, Henry Richardson authored the Richardson Report, documenting the exclusion of historically underpresented groups in ASIL. Judge Gabrielle Kirk McDonald is the first Black to serve as honorary ASIL president. Richardson and Butcher formed the Society's Southern Africa Interest Group (now called Africa Interest Group) in the 1980s during the South Africa apartheid era.

BASIL Executive Committee

Adejoké Babington-Ashaye, Co-Chair
Darin Johnson, Co-Chair
Natalie Reid
Chantal Thomas

BASIL Members

Tendayi Achiume
Diane Marie Amann
Elizabeth Andersen
Adejoké Babington-Ashaye
Angela Banks
Doak Bishop
Karen Bravo
Edith Brown Weiss
Jay Butler
Adom Cooper
Donald Donovan
Marsha Echols
George Edwards
Erika George
Mélida Hodgson
Darin Johnson
Edward Kwakwa
Jeremy Levitt
Gabrielle Kirk McDonald
Gay McDougall
Makau Mutua
Vincent Nmehielle
Isedua Oribhabor
Tafadzwa Pasipanodya
Henry Richardson
Victoria Sahani
Patricia Sellers
Matiangai Sirleaf
Anna Spain Bradley
Nawi Ukabiala
Carlos Vazquez
Adrien Wing
Michael D. Cooper, ex-officio
Gregory Shaffer, ex-officio

Blacks in International Law Directory

Blacks of the American Society of International Law (BASIL) is seeking to increase the number and influence of Blacks not only in ASIL, but also in the field of international law in the United States generally. To that end, BASIL is undertaking the creation of a Directory of Blacks in International Law which will be a useful tool for sharing information within the community, and for making collective resources available to students and others interested in careers in international law. By completing the form below, you can register to be included in this Directory.

Who will be listed in the Directory? The Directory of Blacks in International Law will list Blacks of African descent who are involved in international law as legal practitioners, jurists, academics, and with government and non-governmental organizations.

Please include a full mailing address. Thank you.


The BASIL Task Force conducts its work through various committees, including the following:
  • Policy Committee
    1. Panel, Symposia, and Events Subcommittee (Upcoming – Reparations & International Law Symposium)
    2. Richardson Report on Redressing Underrepresentation Subcommittee
  • Career Development Committee
  • Repository & Directory Committee
  • Finance Development Committee

Recent BASIL Activities


BASIL TF Members and allies gathering at the 2019 ASIL Annual Meeting: (left to right) James Sommerville, Adrien Wing, Darin Johnson, Catherine Powell, Marcella David, Henry (Hank) Richardson, and Victoria Shannon Sahani


BASIL TF Members at University of Colorado Critical Race Theory Conference (August 2018): (left to right, back row) Anna Spain Bradley (symposium organzer), Chantal Thomas, Tendayi Achiume, (left to right, front row) Matiangai Sirleaf, Adrien Wing,and Catherine Powell


Speed mentoring mentors 2019


BASIL registration fee awardees 2019 with Co-chair Wing


BASIL registration fee awardees 2019


Members in attendance included: Jeremy Levitt, former ASIL President Sean Murphy, former ASIL President Lucinda Low, Natalie Reid, former ASIL Executive Director Mark Agrast, Makau Mutua, Adrien Wing, Melida Hodgson, Tafadzwa Pasipanodya, Carlos Vazquez.

2018 ASIL and BASIL leadership


Former ASIL President Sean Murphy, former ASIL President Lucinda Low, former ASIL Executive Director Mark Agrast, BASIL Co-Chair Adrien Wing, BASIL Co-Chair Makau Mutua


Chantal Thomas, Makau Mutua, and Adrien Wing meet students and lawyers at the 2018 Career Panel and Speed Mentoring Fair.


BASIL members Angela Banks, Henry Richardson & Adrien Wing greet students at the 2018 Midyear Meeting at UCLA.

BASIL held a spring meeting session during the 2016 ASIL Annual Meeting.


Former ASIL staffer Sheila Ward, former ASIL Executive Director Mark Agrast, Adrien Wing, Bart Brown, Gabrielle McDonald, Jeremy Levitt, former ASIL President Lori Damrosch, Henry Richardson, Angela Banks

BASIL held an event at Howard Law School just prior to the start of the 2015 ASIL Annual Meeting. We held an informational panel followed by a speed mentoring session, and ended with a reception.


(back row) Natalie Reid, Marsha Echols, Steve Koh, Adom Cooper, (front row) Gabrielle Kirk McDonald, Adrien Wing

BASIL held an inaugural reception and its first business meeting at the ASIL Midyear Meeting in Chicago, IL, in early November 2014. .


BASIL members with local Black students at the task force's inaugural reception in Chicago, IL, as part of the Society's Midyear Meeting in November 2014.

For more information

For more information and to become involved with BASIL, contact