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Trump picks alum of Wheaton College in Illinois for diplomatic post

President Trump is nominating an alum of Wheaton College in Illinois to serve as the next ambassador at large for global criminal justice, a key State Department post dealing with international atrocities.

In a statement Friday, the White House identified the nominee as Morse H. Tan, a professor at Northern Illinois University College of Law. Tan received his bachelor’s degree from Wheaton in 1997 and his master’s from the college the following year. He graduated from Northwestern University School of Law in 2001.

The Office of Global Criminal Justice “advises the Secretary of State and other elements of the United States Government on the prevention of, and response to, atrocity crimes,” according to the State Department website. “The Office provides advice and expertise on transitional justice, including ways to ensure justice and accountability for genocide, crimes against humanity, and war crimes, as well as other grave human rights violations.”

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In addition, the site says, the office “supports U.S. diplomats operating in conflict and post-conflict scenarios by providing subject matter expertise regarding atrocity crimes. It is also the point of contact for international, hybrid, and mixed tribunals exercising jurisdiction over war crimes, crimes against humanity, and genocide committed around the world.”

Tan’s nomination is subject to Senate confirmation.

He’s established himself as an expert on North Korea, according to his biography on the Northern Illinois University website.

“His work on North Korea has been received by the United Nations Commission of Inquiry, the prosecutor of the International Criminal Court, the South Korean ambassador to the U.S. and the U.S. Assistant Secretary of State who led negotiations with North Korea,” the site says. “No scholar has produced more law review articles on North Korea than he has.”

The White House said Tan is fluent in Korean and Spanish.

He gave a lecture on North Korea to State Department officials in January 2017.

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“Professor Tan spoke to an audience of seasoned State Department personnel, North Korea experts and other distinguished guests on a number of timely issues surrounding the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea (DPRK),” the Northern Illinois University website says.

According to the site, “Professor Tan outlined the international law concepts of Responsibility to Protect and humanitarian intervention, and then applied them in order to propose strategic solutions to the predicaments in North Korea.”

During a question and answer session, the site says, Tan “focused on answers to both the abuse of human rights by the DPRK regime on its citizens and foreign nationals as well as the security crisis created by North Korean proliferation. Tan’s message was that the crises in North Korea could be solved with courage, wisdom and determination.”

Because of a reporting error, a prior version of this story identified Tan as a graduate of Wheaton College in Norton. The Globe regrets the error.


Travis Andersen can be reached at travis.andersen@globe.com. Follow him on Twitter @TAGlobe.