Academic journal article Emory Law Journal

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Academic journal article Emory Law Journal

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Article excerpt

Two of David Bederman's recent works focus on the role and development of custom in international law-The Pirate Code1 and Custom as a Source of Law.2 Both of these works showcase David's long celebrated and admired ability to weave together multiple legal concepts, components, and regimes to find cross-cutting ideas, values, and principles. His intellectual agility and breadth of interest and expertise surely made David one of the top modern international law scholars; it also made him a sought-after attorney and consultant in "the real world" outside of academia.

In many ways, though, David was foremost a teacher, and he taught and trained hundreds, indeed thousands, of law students over his career at Emory and other law schools. David's grasp and study of the myriad ways in which custom can develop and affect legal regimes offered his students a unique understanding of international law and how it works. In many areas of international law, both private and public, customary law is a vital source of law. All students in an international law class learn how customary law is formed through state practice and opinio juris, a critical complement to lawmaking through treaties. Understanding the broader role that custom can play, especially in the more diverse world of international law, offers a window into a great range of local and nonstate processes that impact the development of international law. Here, David married the roles of law scholar and law teacher in the best of ways.

Students studying most aspects of public international law these days encounter a world in which state-centered lawmaking and action-once the hallmark of the international legal order-is but one (albeit a dominating) facet of the international legal system. …

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