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This side event to the 14th Session of the ICC Assembly of States Parties launched two comprehensive books – Volumes 3 (ISBN 978-82-8348-015-3, 837 pp.) and 4 (ISBN 978-82-8348-017-7, 996 pp.) of ‘Historical Origins of International Criminal Law’ (‘HOICL’) – and took stock of new developments in the ICL Public Commons  that can raise both capacity and efficiency in criminal justice for core international crimes.

The event was co-hosted by the European Commission, Finland, France, Germany, Israel, Norway, the Indian Society of International Law, Peking University International Law Institute, Waseda University Law School, and the Centre for International Law Research and Policy, with support by the Ministries of Foreign Affairs of Germany and Norway, at the World Forum Theatre in The Hague. 

In his foreword to HOICL Volume 4, Wegger Christian Strømmen notes that the four-volume project “draws our attention to the common legacy and interests at the core of international criminal law. By creating a discourse community with more than 100 scholars from around the world, [CILRAP] has set in motion a wider process that will serve as a reminder of the importance of the basics of international criminal law”. This is reflected in the overall theme of the HOICL Project: ‘United by the Basics of International Criminal Law: Exploring its Historical Origins’.

In his remarks concluding the side event, its chair, Mr. Martin Sørby (Director, Department of Legal Affairs, Norwegian Ministry of Foreign Affairs), made the following points:  

“Firstly, the Historical Origins of International Criminal Law Project shows us that it is indeed possible to find ICL topics that build common ground, and that it is worthwhile to try to do so. We should take steps to reduce polarization in the world of international criminal law during the coming years.

Secondly, the ICC Legal Tools Database has made very significant progress during the past year, in terms of its use around the world, the legal sources it contains, and the number of partner institutions involved in its further development. The Database is becoming the centre of the emerging ICC Public Commons.

Thirdly, the examples of co-operation between national archives in Belgium and Norway, the ICC Legal Tools Project, and academic institutions is very promising, and should be copied in other countries.

Fourthly, the increase in the number of partners in the ICC Legal Tools Project is remarkable, especially the inclusion of partners in Egypt, India, Japan and South Africa, as well as the global institutions of Stanford University, National University of Singapore, and Peking University Law School.

Fifthly, the inclusion of five sets of ICL preparatory works in the ICC Legal Tools Database is very useful. It means that the Database covers all the core international crimes also as regards preparatory works. We should thank the Project team for the work they have undertaken in the common interest.

Sixthly, the productions of five new films and two leaflets give the ICC Legal Tools Project increased visibility, which is much deserved. States and the Court should further reinforce this during the next years. The substance of the Project is very strong indeed.

Finally, the CMN Knowledge Hub  of CILRAP is developing rapidly, with the online Commentary on the Law of the ICC (CLICC), the new ICCPWS service, and the emerging CJAD, CICD and CLD services which we will no doubt learn more about at next year’s ASP Session”.


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