Dean Scharf featured on United Nations Audiovisual Library of International Law

headshot of Michael P. Scharf

In 2018, Dean Michael Scharf was invited to the United Nations to tape a lecture for the UN Audiovisual Library of International Law about his theory of Accelerated Formation of Customary International Law, which was the subject of his book "Customary International Law in Times of Fundamental Change."

This lecture explores the concept of "Grotian Moments": transformative developments that generate unique conditions for the accelerated formation of customary international law. Scharf contends that 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. This lecture examines six case studies of potential Grotian Moments: the Nuremberg trial, jurisdiction over the Continental Shelf, the advent of space law, the Yugoslavia Tribunal's Tadic decision, and the evolving law of use of force in self-defense against non-state actors and humanitarian intervention.

The 34-minute lecture is available on the UN website in both video and audio format.