The Historical Origins of International Criminal Law: Seminar 2

New Delhi, 29 and 30 November 2014

Link to seminar concept and programme | Link to Seminar 1 | Book launch | HOICL leaflet

This was the second of two conferences in a larger project to explore the history of international criminal law. The first conference was held in Hong Kong on 1 and 2 March 2014. The FICHL-department of the Centre for International Law Research and Policy, the European University Institute (Department of Law), and Peking University International Law Institute co-organized both seminars, with separate additional partners for each (Waseda University Law School, NALSAR University of Law, O.P. Jindal Global University, Asian-African Legal Consultative Organization, and the Indian Society of International Law co-organized the New Delhi seminar).

The New Delhi conference built on the discussions and findings of the Hong Kong conference. It brought to completion this project’s critical exploration of the historical foundations (doctrinal, institutional, and societal) of international criminal law as a discipline of public international law. It focused in particular on prosecutions undertaken after World War II and their contributions to international criminal law. It also examined the origins and developmental trajectories of core international crimes, as well as the beginnings and evolution of different institutions created to address these crimes.

In light of increasing interest in historical trials and historical methods in the discipline of international criminal law, this project aims to undertake a comprehensive mapping of international criminal law’s historical landscape and its development. In doing so, it seeks to strengthen and expand the foundations of this relatively young discipline of public international law. By challenging and going beyond the geographical, cultural, and temporal limits set by traditional narratives of international criminal law and justice, it asks critical questions about the substance, process, and institutional roots of international criminal law with the aim of generating new knowledge and enlarging our research inquiries. By bringing together researchers and practitioners with different theoretical and methodological expertise in conducting historical research, it aims to emphasise and contribute to the building of further professionalism and methodological rigour in international criminal law research.

Against this background, the project’s overall aim is to pursue the vertical consolidation of international criminal law, by increasing knowledge about its historical and intellectual foundations and its social function, enhancing the quality, independence and viability of criminal justice for core international crimes in diverse and rapidly changing social contexts. To this end, the New Delhi conference aimed to crystallise the sub-discipline of history of international criminal law. Based on the project’s themes and conference proceedings, a comprehensive publication will be published that explores the constellation of trials, institutions, legislation, norms, and debates which form the building blocks of today’s discipline of international criminal law, and why that is so.

This research project is co-ordinated by Professor Morten Bergsmo (Peking University Law School), Assistant Professor CHEAH Wui Ling (National University of Singapore), and Assistant Professor YI Ping (Peking University Law School).