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Customary International Law in Times of Fundamental Change

Recognizing Grotian Moments

By Michael P. Scharf

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Format: Online resource
Published In: United Kingdom, 05 June 2013
This is the first book to explore the concept of 'Grotian Moments'. Named for Hugo Grotius, whose masterpiece De jure belli ac pacis helped marshal in the modern system of international law, Grotian Moments are transformative developments that generate the unique conditions for accelerated formation of customary international law. In periods of fundamental change, whether by technological advances, the commission of new forms of crimes against humanity, or the development of new means of warfare or terrorism, customary international law may form much more rapidly and with less state practice than is normally the case to keep up with the pace of developments. The book examines the historic underpinnings of the Grotian Moment concept, provides a theoretical framework for testing its existence and application, and analyzes six case studies of potential Grotian Moments: Nuremberg, the continental shelf, space law, the Yugoslavia Tribunal's Tadic decision, the 1999 NATO intervention in Serbia and the 9/11 terrorist attacks.

Table of Contents

1. Introduction; 2. Historical context; 3. Theoretical underpinnings; 4. Nuremberg as Grotian moment; 5. The Truman proclamation on the continental shelf; 6. Outer space law; 7. The Yugoslavia tribunal's Tadic decision; 8. The responsibility to protect doctrine; 9. The response to 9/11; 10. Conclusion.

About the Author

Michael Scharf is the John Deaver Drinko-Baker and Hostetler Professor of Law and Associate Dean for Global Legal Studies at Case Western Reserve University School of Law. Scharf is the author of fifteen books, three of which have won book of the year awards. During the elder Bush and Clinton Administrations, Scharf served in the Office of the Legal Advisor of the US Department of State, where he held the positions of Attorney-Advisor for Law Enforcement and Intelligence, Attorney-Advisor for United Nations Affairs, and delegate to the United Nations Human Rights Commission. In February 2005, Scharf and the Public International Law and Policy Group, a non-governmental organization he co-founded and directs, were nominated for the Nobel Peace Prize by the prosecutor of an international criminal tribunal for the work they have done to help in the prosecution of major war criminals.


'In its totality, Customary International Law in Times of Fundamental Change: Recognizing Grotian Moments is a stimulating and challenging examination of how pivotal moments in history can precipitously affect the field of customary international law and international relations. At its best, this book has the potential to influence international law scholars who are deeply entrenched in their own views and spark interest in students of the law who have not yet embarked on their intellectual journeys.' George Washington International Law Review 'Professor Scharf examines the concept of the 'Grotian Moment', providing a critical yet thought-provoking analysis of the instances in which customary international law can, and indeed does, develop with surprising rapidity and limited state practice. Professor Scharf 's contribution is widely set to leave its mark, as acknowledged by the authoritative list of names endorsing the book.' Jonathan Worboys, King's Law Journal '... this is an excellent book. It is clearly and engagingly written (as anyone familiar with Scharf's previous work would expect). The research underpinning it is similarly faultless. Moreover, it is short and to the point: its arguments are both concisely made and precisely targeted. This book is ultimately an extremely important addition to the literature. Its thesis is at the same time indisputable (in and of itself) and yet highly contestable both in terms of its framing and application to specific examples. Customary International Law in Times of Fundamental Change will undoubtedly spark important debate and further research on the process of expedited custom: a process that is controversial and potentially dangerous, but which - as Scharf ably demonstrates - undeniably occurs.' James A. Green, International and Comparative Law Quarterly

EAN: 9781139649407
ISBN: 113964940X
Publisher: Cambridge University Press (Virtual Publishing)
Age Range: 15+ years
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