David J. Scheffer


David Scheffer is the Mayer Brown/Robert A. Helman Professor of Law and from 2006 to 2019 served as the Director of the Center for International Human Rights. He teaches International Human Rights Law and International Criminal Law. From January 2012 through October 2018, 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 in 2013 and was in residence at the American Academy in Berlin during the Fall 2013 term. In 2018, he received the “Champion of Justice” Award from the Center for Justice and Accountability. He also received the Dean’s Teaching Award 2007-2008 and founded and edits (2007-2011, 2019-present) the Cambodia Tribunal Monitor (www.cambodiatribunal.org).

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 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.” His latest book is The Sit Room: In the Theater of War and Peace (Oxford University Press, 2019).

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 and where he chairs the Center for Human Rights Working Group on Crimes Against Humanity), the Council on Foreign Relations, and the Chicago Council on Global Affairs where he is a Nonresident Senior Fellow, and he 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

  • All The Missing Souls: A Personal History Of The War Crimes Tribunals (Princeton University Press 2012).
  • Tribunal Influence in Recent U.S. Jurisprudence on Corporate Liability for Atrocity Crimes in Proceedings of The Fifth International Humanitarian Law Dialogs 47-75, edited by Elizabeth Andersen and David M. Crane (American Society of International Law 2012).
  • El Significado y la ActivaciĆ³n del Crimen de AgresiĆ³n Bajo el Estatuto de Roma de la Corte Penal Internacional, 7 Politica Criminal 209-229 (Julio 2012).
  • The International Criminal Court in Routledge Handbook of International Criminal Law, edited by William A. Schabas and Nadia Bernaz (Routledge 2011).
  • The Five Levels of CSR Compliance: The Resiliency of Corporate Liability under the Alien Tort Statute and the Case for a Counterattack Strategy in Compliance Theory, 29 Berkeley Journal of International Law 334-397 (2011) (with Caroline Kaeb).
  • Introduction: Atrocity Crimes Litigation During 2009 , 8 Northwestern University Journal of International Human Rights 235-244 (2010).

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

Prior Appointments

  • Director, Center for International Human Rights, Northwestern University School of Law
  • 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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