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Prof. Dr. Tono Eitel

On the Death of Ambassador Prof. Dr. Tono Eitel  

by Jochen A. Frowein

Our External Academic Member passed away on June 25, 2017, shortly after his 84th birthday, in his home city of Münster. He was an international law expert respected in many parts of the world, who participated in numerous negotiations and enriched the discourse of this Institute. We were close friends since the winter term of 1953-1954 at the Freie Universität Berlin. Following his exams and studies in the USA and France, Tono began working at the Auswärtiges Amt (German Federal Foreign Office). After assignment to Jamaica, he served as personal advisor to Egon Bahr from 1970 to 1974 and played an important role concerning the Ostverträge (series of treaties with the countries of Eastern Europe) and the Grundlagenvertrag (Basic Treaty between the Federal Republic of Germany and the German Democratic Republic). He authored an impressive work about these treaties which had to be published under the pseudonym Zündorf. Thereafter, he undertook diplomatic tasks in Bern and at the United Nations Conference on the Law of the Sea. In 1982, he became the ambassador to Lebanon, where he narrowly escaped an assassination attack in which his driver was killed. Tono was able to have the driver’s name added to the roll of honor of the Auswärtiges Amt and his family receive compensation from the company responsible for the armoring of the car in which they had been riding. His role as head of the legal department and international law advisor led us together during the sessions of the German Federal Foreign Office’s Council on International Law, which he chaired in a sovereign manner. His last assignment before retiring was Germany’s representation at the United Nations, where he temporarily presided over the Security Council. During his retirement, he continued to be responsible for the negotiations on war-related, unlawfully removed cultural goods, which unfortunately achieved only limited success. In addition, he successfully supervised recipients of Bosch stipends for international tasks for several years. Those speaking on behalf of the Auswärtiges Amt at the funeral in Münster paid special homage to his humaneness, his responsibility towards subordinates and his openness with superiors. I have lost my best friend among international law experts.