David J. Scheffer

Mayer Brown/Robert A. Helman Professor of Law
Director, Center for International Human Rights


David Scheffer holds an endowed professorship and serves as the Director of the Center for International Human Rights. He teaches International Human Rights Law and International Criminal Law and supervises the International Externship Program. He received the Dean’s Teaching Award 2007-2008 and founded and co-edited (2007-2011) the Cambodia Tribunal Monitor. From January 2012 through June 2017, Scheffer was the U.N. Secretary-General’s Special Expert on United Nations Assistance to the Khmer Rouge Trials. He was selected by Foreign Policy Magazine as one of the "Top Global Thinkers of 2011." He received the Berlin Prize and was in residence at the American Academy in Berlin during the Fall 2013 term.

Scheffer was previously the U.S. Ambassador at Large for War Crimes Issues (1997-2001) and led the U.S. delegation in U.N. talks establishing the International Criminal Court. During his ambassadorship, he negotiated and coordinated U.S. support for the establishment and operation of international and hybrid criminal tribunals and U.S. responses to atrocities anywhere in the world. Scheffer also headed the Atrocities Prevention Inter-Agency Working Group. During the first term of the Clinton Administration, he served as senior adviser and counsel to the U.S. Representative to the United Nations, Dr. Madeleine Albright, and served from 1993 through 1996 on the Deputies Committee of the National Security Council. Scheffer has held visiting professorships at Northwestern Law, Georgetown University Law Center, and George Washington University Law School and taught at Duke University School of Law and Columbia University School of International and Public Affairs. He has published extensively on international legal and political issues, is a columnist for Project Syndicate, and appears regularly in the national and international media.  His book, All the Missing Souls: A Personal History of the War Crimes Tribunals (Princeton University Press, 2012) received the 2012 Book of the Year Award from the American National Section of the International Association of Penal Law and was chosen among the Washington Post’s “Best of 2012: 50 Notable Works of Nonfiction.

Scheffer is a member of the New York and District of Columbia Bars, the American Society of International Law (formerly serving on the Executive Council), the American Bar Association (which awarded him the Max Kampelman Award in 1999), the Council on Foreign Relations, and the Chicago Council on Global Affairs, and was Chairman of the Board of Directors of the International Law Students Association (2004-2008).

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Areas of Expertise

  • Public International Law
  • Clinical Teaching
  • International Criminal Law/Law of War
  • International Institutions Law
  • International Human Rights Law
  • Corporate Social Responsibility

Selected Publications

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  • AB magna cum laude, Harvard University
  • BA (Honour School of Jurisprudence), Oxford University
  • LLM, Georgetown University

Prior Appointments

  • Senior Advisor and Counsel to the U.S. Permanent Representative to the United Nations
  • U.S. Ambassador at Large for War Crimes Issues
  • Jennings Randolph Senior Fellow, U.S. Institute of Peace
  • Senior Vice President, U.N. Association of the U.S.A.
  • Senior Associate, Carnegie Endowment for International Peace
  • Senior Consultant, Committee on Foreign Affairs, U.S. House of Representatives
  • International Affairs Fellow, Council on Foreign Relations
  • Associate, Coudert Brothers

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