David John Scheffer (born 18 September 1953) is an American lawyer and diplomat who served as the first United States Ambassador-at-Large for War Crimes Issues, during President Bill Clinton's second term in office. He currently teaches at the Northwestern University School of Law, where he directs the Center for International Human Rights.
Scheffer received B.A.s from Harvard and Oxford University, and an LL.M. from Georgetown University Law Center. He began his legal career at the international law firm Coudert Brothers, working for a time in their Singapore office. He also served as counsel to the U.S. House Committee on Foreign Affairs. During Clinton's first term, he was initially the senior advisor to Madeleine Albright, who then served as ambassador to the United Nations. Scheffer then sat on the Deputies Committee of the National Security Council from 1993 until 1996, and then became the first Ambassador-at-Large for War Crimes Issues.
As ambassador, Scheffer participated in the creation of the International Criminal Tribunals for the former Yugoslavia and Rwanda, the Special Court for Sierra Leone, and the Extraordinary Chambers in Cambodia. He also led the U.S. negotiating team in United Nations talks on the International Criminal Court. Though Scheffer signed the Rome Statute that established the ICC on behalf of the U.S. in 2000, he was a highly vocal critic of many aspects of the court and the negotiation process. He particularly opposed the prohibition on any party making reservations to the Rome Statute and the manner in which the Statute structured the court's jurisdiction. Clinton's successor, George W. Bush, later withdrew the signature of the U.S.
Scheffer has also taught classes on international law and war crimes as a law professor at Northwestern, Georgetown, Columbia, Duke, and George Washington University. He is an endorser of the Genocide Intervention Network.
In his capacity as director of the Center for International Human Rights, Scheffer runs the Cambodia Tribunal Monitor website, the primary source for accessing news, information, and video of trial proceedings from the Extraordinary Chambers in the Courts of Cambodia.
In December 2011, Scheffer published a memoir and history, "All the Missing Souls: A Personal History of the War Crimes Tribunals" about the rise of international tribunals in the 1990s. On 18 January 2012, Scheffer was appointed by Secretary General Ban Ki-moon as the U.N. Special Expert to advise on the United Nations Assistance to the Khmer Rouge Trials.
- Faculty profile at Northwestern University Law School
- Foreign Policy article on the 2011 arrest of Ratko Mladic, "The Least Wanted Most Wanted Man"
- Foreign Policy article on enforcing the ICC's 2011 al-Qaddafi arrest warrant, "Justice League"
- Dworkin, Anthony (January 27, 2011). "Review of "All the Missing Souls"". Washington Post. Retrieved January 30, 2012.
- Sands, Phillippe (January 13, 2012). "Justice for Others". Financial Times. Retrieved January 30, 2012.
- "Cambodia: Ban designates new adviser for Khmer Rouge trials". UN News Centre. January 18, 2012. Retrieved April 4, 2012.