Petar Šarčević was a dedicated scholar who had exceptional vision and was driven by a mission. Always intrigued by the most complex of challenges, he knew only the “highest” criteria. Over the years he initiated numerous projects and succeeded in bringing together prominent law professors and experts from all parts of the world. Many of those who had the opportunity to work closely with Petar have contributed to this Liber Memorialis dedicated to the life and work of this distinguished professor, diplomat, arbitrator, colleague and friend.

Petar Šarčević was born 26 April 1941 in Subotica (former Yugoslavia). After completing his law studies at the University of Zagreb in 1965, he commenced his postgraduate studies in European Integration at the Europa Institute of the University of Amsterdam (1968). He acquired his Dr. iur. in 1973 at the Faculty of Law and Economics of the Jo­hannes Gutenberg-Universität in Mainz, Germany, where he also met his wife, today Pro­fessor Susan Šarčević, who was a partner in his professional activities.

After the sudden death of his father, Petar returned to his hometown of Subotica and took over the family law office, which was specialized mainly in civil and commercial mat­ters. While working as an attorney from 1970 to 1977, he developed his analytical skills and legal intuition, enabling him to quickly grasp the essence of complex legal problems. It was during these years that he learned to value the “practical” aspects of law and justice. Later he acknowledged that his experience as a practicing lawyer played a significant role in his academic career, his success as a diplomat and work as an arbitrator.

In 1977 he was appointed to the chair of Private International Law at the Faculty of Law of the University of Rijeka and also lectured at the Faculty of Economics in Rijeka. From 1983 to 1986 he worked as a legal expert at the Swiss Institute of Comparative Law, where he broadened his international orientation and established numerous contacts. Upon his return to Rijeka, he served as the Dean of the Rijeka Law Faculty and thereafter as Rector of the University of Rijeka (1989-91). With his endless energy and enthusiasm, Šarčević succeeded in improving the educational system at the university and introduced new subjects into the curriculum of the Faculty of Law. More recently, he was one of the organizers of the postgraduate studies on European Integration at the Rijeka Faculty of Law (2001) and organized the Deutsche Rechtsschule in co-operation with the IRZ Stiftung in Bonn and the Faculty of Law of the University of Dresden.

Petar Šarčević was a professor in the true sense of a scholar with wide horizons. He considered himself fortunate to have commenced his academic career by teaching Private International Law not only because of its international elements but also because of its contacts with so many areas of private law. His academic interests focused not only on Private International Law but also on Family Law, International Commercial Law and Arbitration, Comparative and European Law, and International Finance Law. In all of these areas Professor Šarčević proved to be a prominent and distinguished scholar who was accepted and admired in circles of international lawyers.

Insisting on international co-operation and regarding the exchange of ideas as a crucial element for the formation of a professor of international law, Petar Šarčević lectured on a variety of subjects as a visiting professor at a number of law faculties and institutes, inter alia, the University of Graz Faculty of Law (Comparative Contract Law: 1986-87); the Catholic University of Leuven Faculty of Law (International Commercial Law, Introduction to Socialist Law: 1987); College of Law of the University of Florida at Gainesville (Comparative Private International Law: 1988, 1990, 1997); Drinko-Baker &. Hostetler distinguished Visiting Professor at Case Western Reserve University School of Law at Cleveland (Comparative Law, Comparative Private International Law, European Law: 1992); the Faculty of Law of the University of Fribourg in Switzerland (Swiss Private International Law, Principles of Business Law in Countries in Transition: 2001); IMADEC University in Vienna (International Contract Law: 2002, 2003, 2004).

In recognition of his scholarly achievements and international reputation, in 1998 Professor Šarčević became an associate member and in 2001 full member of the prestigious Institut de droit international and was appointed as Rapporteur of the Fourth Commission on the topic “Registered Partnership in Private International Law”. He was a member of numerous other international associations, all of which cannot be mentioned here. In particular, he was a loyal member of the International Society of Family Law, serving as its president from 1997 to 2000 and member of the Executive Council for almost 15 years. In his capacity as Director of Studies of the International Association of Legal Science (Paris, 1990-94), he organized a series of international conferences on topics of comparative law in Tokio, Provo (Utah), Lausanne and Jerusalem.

Petar Šarčević headed the Croatian delegation to the eighteenth session of the Hague Conference on Private International Law (1996) and participated in the Special Commission leading to the adoption of The Hague Convention of 1996 on International Child Protection. He served as Croatia's first delegate to the UN Commission on International Trade Law at its thirty-seventh session held in June 2004 in New York and was elected as one of the vice presidents of the session. In 2003 he was appointed Croatia's first member to the ICC International Court of Arbitration in Paris. He became a WTO panelist in 2003 and was long-time member of the Swiss Arbitration Association, the American Society of International Law, the American Law Institute, ILA's Committee on International Trade Law and associate member of the ICC Institute of World Business Law. Petar was founder and first president of the Croatian Comparative Law Association. At the time of his death he was vice president of the Academy of Legal Science of Croatia.

What Professor Šarčević enjoyed most was conveying his immense experience and knowledge to generations of young lawyers not only from Croatia but from the whole world. Of the numerous projects and conferences he organized, he will be best remembered for his series of Dubrovnik courses on topics of international commercial law, held at the Inter-University Centre in Dubrovnik. Over a period of 11 years, Petar organized 11 courses where he, with all his energy, acted in the unique role of organizer, co-director and lecturer. With almost no financial resources, he succeeded  ̶  thanks to his extraordinary organizational talents  ̶  to bring to Dubrovnik numerous distinguished professors, thus enabling young scholars to learn from the best. The Dubrovnik courses will be remembered not only by the high quality of the lecturers and books published after each course, but also by the friendly atmosphere created by Petar's warm hospitality, humour and kindness. This made Šarčević's Dubrovnik courses not only a remarkable educational event but also the place where new, long-lasting friendships were made.

Petar Šarčević's intellectual curiosity drove him constantly into new areas of research and challenging problems. A list of his publications in English, German, Croatian, French and Chinese follows. He was the author, editor and co-editor of many books and articles. Of his numerous publishing projects, one deserves special mention: Professor Šarčević is the “father” of the Yearbook of Private International Law, which he founded in 1999 and co-edited with Professor Paul Volken. The first five volumes were published by Kluwer Law International in cooperation with the Swiss Institute of Comparative Law. Unfortunately, Petar never saw volume VI of the Yearbook, which is also co-edited by Professor Andrea Bonomi and published by Sellier and Staempfli in association with the Swiss Institute of Comparative Law. We believe, however, that the Yearbook has become what he always wanted it to be, a global and reputed law journal found in law libraries throughout the world.

Petar Šarčević will also be remembered for his achievements as a diplomat. When Croatia became an independent country in the early nineties, he was invited to join the newly formed diplomatic corps. Responding to the call, Petar put his skills to work to help his young country in the critical years of early statehood. He started his diplomatic career, the only way he knew, at the top, taking on the greatest challenge, as the first Croatian Ambassador to the USA. During his pioneering mandate from 1992 to 1996, he established a solid framework for Croatian diplomacy in the US and literally “built” the first Croatian Embassy on Massachusetts Ave. in Washington, D.C., with the help of the Croatian diaspora. From 1996 to 1999, he served as Croatian Ambassador to the Swiss Confederation and to Liechtenstein. During his mandate in Switzerland he was invited to join the Cercle de la Grande Société de Berne. For his distinguished service in diplomacy, he was decorated with the “Order of Prince Branimir” by the President of the Republic of Croatia.

Ambassador Šarčević put his communication skills to work representing Croatia before numerous governmental and non-governmental organizations. He was also representative of the Republic of Croatia to the Organization of American States (1994-96). He participated as a member of the Croatian delegation at the London Peace Conference on former Yugoslavia (1992), the Washington Peace Talks resulting in the Washington Agreement on Bosnia-Herzegovina (1994), and at the Dayton Peace Talks resulting in the Dayton Agreement (1995).

When he was offered a third ambassadorship, Šarčević declined and chose to return to academia. As some of his colleagues have said, this is where he really belonged and felt at home. Upon his return, he continued to work on new projects with more enthusiasm and energy than ever before, as if he knew he did not have much time left. Unfortunately, he was struck down at the pinnacle of his career, unable to complete one of his lifetime goals. In July 2005 he was scheduled to hold a series of lectures at The Hague Academy of International Law on the topic "Private International Law Aspects of Cohabitation Without Formal Marriage". He would have been the first professor of Private International Law from the Republic of Croatia to lecture at this prestigious institution.

His competitive spirit followed him throughout his academic, diplomatic and personal life. He was highly respected not only for his professionalism but also for his warm personality, his belief that deeds speak for themselves, his readiness to support others, and his sincere joy in the success of others. All these characteristics were highly valued by his colleagues and friends from all parts of the world. His enthusiasm, his spiritus movens will always be with us. And for this we will always be grateful to him.

Johan Erauw
Vesna Tomljenović
Paul Volken

List of Petar Šarčević's publications