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Statement by Ambassador Anniken R. Krutnes

I am glad to be offered an opportunity to say some words on the occasion of the launch of Volumes 3 and 4 of ‘Historical Origins of International Criminal Law’. On 12 December 2014, at a side event at the United Nations Headquarters, I concluded my remarks by saying that "Norway […] supported the second conference in this research project, which took place in New Delhi on 28-30 November 2014. We understand that a further volume with papers from that conference will be published in 2015. We look forward to seeing that, and to following this forward-looking project that seeks to establish a sub-discipline of ‘history of international criminal law’".

Well, less than a year later than both that day and the conference in New Delhi, we find ourselves here at the launch of Volumes 3 and 4, 837 and 996 pages long respectively. This tells us more than that the Torkel Opsahl Academic EPublisher and CILRAP are able to act and deliver on their commitments. The Historical Origins of International Criminal Law Project – the HOICL Project – was originally designed to involve one conference and one book. Instead it has generated two full conferences in Hong Kong and New Delhi, and four volumes amounting to more than 3,300 pages. The interest in this project has been very strong. The theme has served as a magnet, attracting contributions from more than 100 scholars from every continent.

The Secretary General of my Norwegian Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Mr. Wegger Christian Strømmen, writes in his foreword to Volume 4 that "[h]istory can be our instrument to find this common ground in the field of international criminal law and related disciplines. [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".

The positive response to the project concept and the broad participation of eminent partner institutions in the project, confirm that ‘historical origins of international criminal law’ is a good example of a theme that can build bridges. It reminds us never to lose sight of the basics of the discipline of international criminal law.

There can be little doubt that CILRAP has reached its project goal to “establish a sub-discipline of ‘history of international criminal law’”. By creating a thematic community of more than 100 scholars, all with their own extensive networks, the Centre has tapped into the intellectual and constructive resources in a way which academic conferences and publications rarely do. CILRAP refers to this approach as “communitarian scholarship”: the idea that many minds can have a much larger impact than one, provided the concept and problem description they take common ownership of, is real and insightful.

I guess the success of the HOICL Project shows the strength of CILRAP in terms of conceptualization and innovative approaches. I wonder which projects they will do next. Those who are curious, looking for new subjects to engage, or interested in what is coming next, may wish to continue following the work of CILRAP.

My congratulations to the HOICL authors present here today, as well as to the CILRAP team members, whose unassuming manner inspires.


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