Michael Scharf '88 nominated for Nobel Peace Prize

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Michael Scharf ’88, a Professor at Case Western Reserve University Law School, has been nominated for the 2005 Nobel Peace Prize, along with the Public International Law & Policy Group (PILPG), which he helped to found in 1995. PILPG co-founder Paul Williams, of the American University Washington College of Law also received a nomination.

PILPG, a UN designated non-governmental organization, offers pro bono legal advice to states and international institutions on the legal aspects of peace negotiations and constitution drafting, as well as human rights protection, self-determination, and the prosecution of war crimes. The nomination letter to the Nobel committee, supported by many of PILPG’s governmental clients, lauded the organization for “significantly contributing to the promotion of peace throughout the globe by providing crucial pro bono legal assistance to state and non-state entities involved in peace negotiations and in bringing war criminals to justice.”

Scharf, who directs Case’s Frederick K. Cox International Law Center and its War Crimes Research Office, also directs PILPG’s War Crimes Practice Group, while Williams directs its Peace Building Practice Group. Like many of PILPF’s 60 affiliated lawyers around the world, they are veterans of the U.S. State Department.

“In matters of public international law, most countries depend on experienced foreign ministry attorneys or high-priced foreign legal consultants, but developing countries and countries emerging from civil war or transitioning to democracy often can’t afford such specialized public international legal expertise,” notes Scharf. “Paul and I founded PILPG to fill that gap, essentially transforming the State Department’s Office of the Legal Adviser alumni association into the world’s premier pro bono public international law firm.”

Affiliated with Case law school and American University, PILPG has operations in London, Paris, Rome, Stockholm, and The Hague, among other venues. Among others, it has provided research assistance to the International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia, the International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda, the Special Court for Sierra Leone, the Iraqi Special Tribunal, and the International Criminal Court.

“PILPG is committed to the notion that if you wish for peace, you must work for justice,” says Scharf.

The winner of the 2005 Nobel Peace Prize will be announced in December.

More information about PILPG can be found at