Morse Tan

Title: Professor of Law
Office Location: Swen Parson 198B
Office Phone: 815-753-1095
Education: B.A., Wheaton College
M.A., Wheaton Graduate School
J.D., Northwestern University
Curriculum Vitae (PDF)

A Supreme Court Fellowship finalist and Chicago Council on Global Affairs Emerging Leader, Professor Tan previously served as a visiting scholar and senior research fellow at the University of Texas School of Law. He has published in the SMU Law JournalHealth Matrix: Journal of Law-Medicine and the Texas International Law Journal. Professor Tan published the book North Korea, International Law and the Dual Crises: Narrative and Constructive Engagement with Routledge. 

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. No scholar has produced more law review articles on North Korea than he has.

Professor Tan has served as a peer reviewer for the Human Rights Journal, the International Negotiation Journal and the American Journal of Comparative Law. His scholarship has been cited in the Virginia Journal of International Law, the North Carolina Law Review, the Vanderbilt Journal of Transnational Law and the Annals of Health Law.

Professor Tan has served as chair of the NIU College of Law Faculty Appointments Committee, the NIU College of Law Promotion and Tenure Committee and as a member of the NIU University Council. He is also faculty advisor for the NIU College of Law International Law Certificate program.

Experientially, he has worked in large law firms, the American Medical Association’s Institute of Ethics, as a certified mediator and for organizational clients such as the UN Development Programme and the American Association of Neurological Surgeons. Professor Tan has enjoyed speaking at various universities and conferences, both in North America (Cornell Law School, the University of Wisconsin Law School and the Johns Hopkins School of Advanced International Studies (SAIS)) as well as on other continents.

He has contributed to a number of media outlets, including the National Law Journal, UPI (United Press International), WGN radio and Radio Free Asia. Professor Tan has consulted on legal as well as ethical matters. Professor Tan serves on the International Committee of SEALS (the Southeastern Association of Law Schools) and is a Presidential Level Member of the Chicago Council on Global Affairs. 

With a National Merit Scholarship, the Harvard Book Award and credits transferred from Stanford University, Professor Tan graduated with honors from Wheaton College, attained an accelerated Master's from its graduate school and earned his JD from Northwestern University School of Law, where he completed an international law concentration.

Areas of Expertise 

  • International law
  • Human rights
  • Bioethics
  • Constitutional law
  • North Korea
  • Legal philosophy

| SSRN Author Page | HeinOnline Author Profile |

Books and Book Chapters

Law Review Articles

Selected Presentations

  • "Taking IHI and R2P Seriously: North Korea as a Primary Consideration," symposium, Cornell Law School International Law program, Ithaca, New York, February 2017.
  • Guest lecturer for two medical ethics classes, University of Illinois Medical School, Spring 2015 & Spring 2016.
  • "U.S. Policy Toward North Korea - The Case for Instituting a More Effective, Human Rights-Centric Approach," panel discussion, Johns Hopkins University, Baltimore, Maryland, October 27, 2015.
  • "North Korea: Jerusalem of the East No More," presented at Capetown, South Africa, August 2015.
  • "Freedom of Conscience," roundtable with Professor Andrew Koppelman, Northwestern University; Professor Robin Fretwell Wilson, University of Illinois and others, Denver, Colorado, July 2015.
  • Presentation at Koinonia House, an outreach to former, current and future prisoners and their families, July 2015.
  • "Dilemmas and Difficulties in Thoroughly Corrupt Societies" and "The North Korean Human Rights Crisis," Southeastern Association of Law Schools, Amelia Island, Florida, August 2014.
  • "Syrian Humanitarian Crisis from an International Legal Perspective," presented with Professors Rosado and Brown, Chicago-Kent College of Law; Professors Ward and Kelleman, DePaul University College of Law; and Professor Telman from Valparaiso University Law School; Chicago-Kent College of Law, Chicago, Illinois, November 2013.
  • "How to Become a Law Professor," presented with Luke Milligan, University of Louisville; Jody Madeira, University of Indiana Maurer School of Law; Howard Wasserman, Florida International University; and Michael Kang, Emory Law School before the Southeastern Association of Law Schools, Palm Beach, Florida, August 2013.
  • "The International Criminal Court: Is the World Better Off?," debate with Professor Eugene Kontorovich, Northwestern University Law School, held at Northern Illinois University College of Law, March 2013. 
  • Presenter on the International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia, Valparaiso University Law School faculty workshop, October 2012.
  • Commented on talk on the use of drones in warfare by Professor Robert F. Turner, University of Virginia School of Law, Fall 2011.
  • "Redress for a Reprehensible Regime: Finding a Forum for North Korea," presented at the Central States Law Schools' Association annual conference, 2011.
  • “A State of Rightlessness: the Egregious Case of North Korea,” presented in Athens, Greece at the Athens Institute for Education and Research Law Conference, 2010.
  • “Compliance Theory and the Inter-American Court of Human Rights,” presented at Queens University Law School (Canada), 2007.
  • “Issues Concerning North Korea,” presented at the University of Texas, 2007.

Selected Media Contributions


Courses Taught at NIU College of Law

Jurisprudence, Constitutional Law, Public International Law, International Human Rights, International Criminal Law, Bioethics Seminar, North Korea Seminar

Other Courses Taught

International Organizations, Contracts, Law and Contemporary Issues

Bar Certifications

Illinois and United States Supreme Court

Foreign Languages and Travel

  • Spanish: fluent
  • Korean: fluent
  • Latin: limited working proficiency
  • Portuguese: can comprehend
  • French: elementary proficiency
  • Chinese: basic
  • Travel: around 30 countries and almost every one of the United States

Other Interests

With victories over those who held or went on to hold NCAA Division I Top 5 and ATP World Tour Top 250 rankings, Professor Tan is a certified pro with TennisCare and has taught tennis on the side. As a cellist, he has performed at the Sydney Opera House, KDFC radio and in recordings with commendation by Itzhak Perlman.