ABC Meets: former Ambassador-at-Large for War Crimes Issues David Scheffer

On March 14th, professor David Scheffer will present his book All the Missing Souls: A Personal History of the War Crimes Tribunals at the ABC Treehut in The Hague, starting at 19.00 hrs. There will also be plenty of room for discussion.

In 1997 David Scheffer was tapped by the Clinton Administration and Secretary of State Madeleine Albright to occupy a newly created position—Ambassador-at-Large for War Crimes Issues, a post Scheffer describes as “one of the darkest possible diplomatic assignments.” The creation of this position was not only new to the U.S., but new to the world; no other country had an ambassador to cover atrocity crimes.

In the ensuing years, Scheffer worked to build new international courts of justice that would prosecute war criminals. The result of his work can be seen in the war crimes tribunals of the former Yugoslavia, Sierra Leone, Cambodia and Rwanda. He also had a lead role in the formation of the permanent International Criminal Court. These were pivotal years in international human rights—perhaps the most important since the Nuremberg trials 50 years prior – and Scheffer was involved in every decision.

In All the Missing Souls: A Personal History of the War Crimes Tribunals, Scheffer takes us behind the scenes to reveal the impetus for his work, the atrocities and victims he encountered, the politics at play in the “corridors of power,” and the pursuit and prosecution of war criminals. He explains successes and acknowledges mistakes that occurred during his tenure and introduces us to key players like Madeleine Albright, Anthony Lake, Richard Goldstone, Louise Arbour, Samuel “Sandy” Berger, Richard Holbrooke, and Wesley Clark, among others.

The resulting book is the most compelling and complete picture of the American response to atrocity crimes at the end of the twentieth century and draws on Scheffer’s decades of experience to illuminate the continuing struggle for international justice.

About the Author

David Scheffer is the Mayer Brown/Robert A. Helman Professor of Law and director of the Center for International Human Rights at Northwestern University School of Law. He served as the first U.S. ambassador-at-large for war crimes issues (1997-2001) and led American initiatives on war crimes tribunals during the 1990s. He has published widely on international law and politics.

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