Thomas G. Weiss (born 1946) is a scholar of international relations, with special expertise in the politics of the United Nations. He is Director Emeritus of the Ralph Bunche Institute for International Studies, Presidential Professor of Political Science at The Graduate Center, CUNY (The City University of New York), and Research Professor at SOAS, University of London. His research interests focus primarily on the United Nations, global governance, humanitarianism, human rights, the Responsibility to Protect doctrine, and the power of ideas in shaping world order. His 2006 oral history transcript is available at the UN Intellectual History Project website.
Weiss received a BA from Harvard University and both a MA and PhD from Princeton University. He pursued advanced graduate studies at the Graduate Institute of International Studies, Geneva. He held professional posts in the Office of the UN Commissioner for Namibia, the University Program at the Institute for World Order, the United Nations Institute for Training and Research, and the International Labour Organization. He served as a Senior Economic Affairs Officer at the United Nations Conference on Trade and Development in Geneva from 1975 until 1985
After leaving UNCTAD, he became Executive Director of the International Peace Academy (now the International Peace Institute), until he left in 1989 to become Research Professor atBrown University and Associate Director of their Watson Institute for International Studies. He was also Executive Director of the Academic Council on the United Nations System (ACUNS) from 1992 and 1998, and co-director of the Humanitarianism and War Project.
Weiss was director of the Ralph Bunche Institute for International Studies from 2001 to 2014. For over forty years he has regularly taught, lectured, consulted on, and conducted research on a wide variety of issues in international relations.
He is "one of the leading experts on the theory and practice of humanitarian intervention," and is recognized as an authority on the United Nations system.
Weiss has authored or edited some 50 books and over 225 articles and book chapters. His current research focuses on the Future UN Development System and on the Wartime United Nations. Earlier, he was
Director of the United Nations Intellectual History Project, with Louis Emmerij and Richard Jolly, 1999-2010. In addition to overseeing seventeen volumes and 80 oral histories of ideas in the United Nations, the three directors notably introduced the idea that there are "three United Nations."
Research Director of the International Commission on Intervention and State Sovereignty, 2000-2002. This initiative popularized the concept of the "responsibility to protect," and Weiss co-authored the supplementary volume—which traced the ethics, assessed the operational mechanics, and analyzed the political dimensions of the undertaking—that accompanied the final report of the commission.
President of the International Studies Association, the preeminent professional association of scholars of international politics, 2009-2010, and recipient of its 2016 International Organization Distinguished Scholar Award.
Chair of the Academic Council on the United Nations System, 2007-2009.
At present he serves as an advisory board member for the Global Centre for the Responsibility to Protect, and sits on the editorial boards of Journal of Intervention and Statebuilding, Third World Quarterly, Global Governance, and Global Responsibility to Protect. He is also co-editor of Routledge's "Global Institutions Series."