ILSA Journal of International and Comparative Law
Grotian Moment, Syria, humanitarian intervention
Grotian Moment is a term that signifies a "paradigm-shifting development in which new rules and doctrines of customary international law emerge with unusual rapidity and acceptance." A Grotian Moment is thus "an instance in which a fundamental change in the exiting international system happens, thereby provoking the emergence of a new principle of customary law with outstanding speed." Professor Richard Falk invented the term Grotian Moment in 1985. Since then, the term has been employed by experts in a variety of ways. Here, I will adopt the following meaning of Grotian Moment as proposed by Professor Michael Scharf: "a transformative development in which new rules and doctrines of customary international law emerge with unusual rapidity and acceptance. This article examines whether the concept of humanitarian intervention, developed over the past two decades, constitutes an instance of a Grotian Moment. In particular, this article focuses on Syria and the recent arguments in favor of humanitarian intervention in this region, and poses the question of whether Syria constitutes a law-creating moment. The article concludes that Syria may contribute to the shaping of a new Grotian Moment: the development of humanitarian intervention as a norm of customary law.
Sterio, Milena, "Humanitarian Intervention Post-Syria: A Grotian Moment" (2014). Law Faculty Articles and Essays. 1034.