The Historical Origins of International Criminal Law

2014 LI Haopei Lecture and Seminar

Hong Kong, 1 and 2 March 2014

Seminar concept and programme | New Delhi SeminarAnthologiesBook launch | HOICL leaflet

This was the first of two seminars analysing the main historical origins of international criminal law as a discipline of international law, the second taking place in New Delhi on 29-30 November 2014. The Centre for International Law Research and Policy, the European University Institute (Department of Law), Peking University International Law Institute, and City University of Hong Kong sought to explore and crystallise a sub-discipline of history of international criminal law by bringing together leading experts from around the world for a two-day conference. Based on these conference proceedings, two anthologies were published on 12 December 2014: Morten Bergsmo, CHEAH Wui Ling and YI Ping (editors): ‘Historical Origins of International Criminal Law: Volumes 1 and 2’, 720 and 805 pages respectively.

By pursuing focused research and discourse on the history of international criminal law, the organisers aspire to generate new knowledge, broaden the common hinterland to international criminal law, and further consolidate this relatively young discipline of international law. Such consolidation is becoming increasingly important and entails several challenges. Lateral consolidation normally aims to broaden consensus among States on the content, nature and importance of substantive principles of international criminal law and how they relate to State policies on criminal justice and foreign affairs. This project seeks vertical consolidation – an increased awareness and knowledge of the historical and intellectual foundations of international criminal law and its social function – which can strengthen the quality, independence and viability of criminal justice for core international crimes in diverse and rapidly changing social contexts. This research project aims to construct common ground and transcends the disagreements surrounding the International Criminal Court, exercise of universal jurisdiction, immunity of State officials, as well as the tension between peace processes and criminal justice in transitions.