Antonios Tzanakopoulos

Antonios Tzanakopoulos

Please tell us a bit about your background.

I was born in Athens in 1981 and grew up there. I went to the German School of Athens, so I consider myself honourary German, and then studied law in Athens, New York (NYU), and Oxford. My mother passed away when I was 23, unfortunately, but my father is still around and lives in Athens. I also have a younger brother and sister. For a while we all lived together in London when I was a Lecturer at UCL and they were still doing their doctoral work. My brother returned to Athens, where he was a Minister in the previous Greek government and is currently an MP, and my sister still lives in London and teaches law at Birkbeck! Our mother was a judge in Greece, and we all ended up being lawyers, though -as my dad, who did not go to uni, complains- not 'the useful kind' (I do public international law, my brother studied jurisprudence, and my sister constitutional and labour law). 


What led you to a career in academia?

Ah, not sure. I remember enjoying the study of law in Athens, and admiring some professors. Perhaps I thought I too could do what they do. I also wanted to 'finish the game' and study abroad, and so I opted to do postgraduate work all the way to the end, first in New York and then in Oxford. I was lucky to get scholarships to do so, otherwise it would not have been possible. At Oxford, I also got to teach tutorials as a Graduate Teaching Assistant, and I enjoyed that a lot. Coming to the end of my doctoral studies, I was headhunted by a US law firm in Paris which offered an eye-watering amount in terms of salary. I said yes, but as my starting date neared, I was having doubts. I enjoyed the freedom of research, not having to wear a suit, and the energy of teaching. So I started applying for lectureships and was lucky to get one at the University of Glasgow! My Oxford Professor at the time encouraged me further to dump the firm and join academia. I have never looked back, and am very happy. 


What are your research interests and why have you chosen those particular areas?

I am a general international lawyer: I enjoy doing research on foundational issues of public international law, in particular the structure of the international legal system, the law of state responsibility, dispute settlement, as well as the law of treaties, the law of the sea, the law on the use of force, and international investment law. So, in a way, I have not 'chosen a particular area'. More of a jack of all trades, master of none. Who needs masters anyway? What I also enjoy, however, is doing practical work, and I have been involved in a number of cases before international and domestic courts. I also provide advice to states, international organisations and other actors on matters of international law. 


What are you working on at the moment?

Uh, emails mostly. And admin. And teaching. But I am also trying to finish a manuscript on international law and domestic courts, which stemmed from a set of lectures I gave a few years ago at the Xiamen Academy of International Law in China. I have an almost complete draft, but there's not enough time to polish and add references... I am also preparing a couple of new editions of older publications, and hope to write a general reference work on dispute settlement. I am also currently working pro bono in a case before the Divisional Court which involves questions of diplomatic immunity and human rights. 


What is your favourite thing to do in your spare time?

I'm afraid I have very little spare time. In whatever time I have, I quite enjoy listening to music and going to concerts. I like metal and punk music (and the crossover between them), mainly, though I do also enjoy some jazz and classical. I have a large collection of vinyl records, some of which I have had since childhood, and have been carrying around for many years. I have also built my own valve preamplifier, with the help of a friend, and have a few turntables, one of which was my dad's and another of which was the one I was given when I started listening to music. Sometimes, my problem questions feature band names as state names. 

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