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Berlin Launch of ‘Historical Origins of International Criminal Law’

Berlin, 15 December 2015

Programme | Bergsmo PPT | HOICL Volumes 3 and 4 | The Hague launch of HOICL 3 and 4 | Beijing launch of HOICL 3 and 4 | New Delhi conference | Hong Kong conference | Launch of HOICL 1 and 2 | HOICL leaflet

The Berlin launch of Volumes 3 and 4 of ‘Historical Origins of International Criminal Law’ was co-hosted by the European Center for Constitutional and Human Rights (‘ECCHR’) and the Centre for International Law Research and Policy (‘CILRAP’), with support of the German Ministry of Foreign Affairs. The speakers included Wolfgang Kaleck (Secretary General of the ECCHR), Professor Claus Kress (University of Cologne), Professor Florian Jessberger (Hamburg University), Dr. Chantal Meloni (ECCHR), Assistant Professor CHEAH Wui Ling (National University of Singapore), and Professor Morten Bergsmo (Peking University Law school).

In his remarks, Professor Kress observed: “The four volumes on the ‘Historical Origins of International Criminal Law’ form a scholarly work of monumental character. It invites the reader to take a long step back from the current debates and controversies and to ponder about the possibility of deeper lying foundations of the discipline. It is encouraging to see to what extent the research corpus of these four volumes has taken the form of a study in global legal history, drawing on the contributions of authors from a wide range of countries and regions including, not least, Asia”.

Dr. Chantal Meloni stated: “Once again I would like to congratulate Professor Morten Bergsmo for the impressive project he successfully led with the Centre for International Law Research and Policy. He managed to achieve at least four major successes: (1) bringing together scholars from all over the world; (2) overcoming the European-centric, Western-centric perspective; (3) making the results available and easily accessible world-wide; and 4) all this, without compromising the quality of the legal research. These exceptional achievements are of great inspiration for academics, scholars and also practitioners in the field of international justice, and a step forward in the direction of achieving universal justice: At ECCHR we struggle with the enforcement of the principle of universal jurisdiction and the respect of the universality of human rights. I guess we are all convinced that the change we are aiming at has to go also through education. In this sense, access to knowledge and to high quality educational instruments and sources is essential. CILRAP’s project is thus revolutionary, because it makes these sources, these tools available regardless of the economic possibilities of those to whom they are addressed to, and because it takes into consideration perspectives (as the Asian one) and approaches too often neglected in the field of international justice”.

Assistant Professor CHEAH – one of the co-editors of HOICL Volumes 1-4 – noted that the “HOICL Project, which began in 2010, demonstrates that we should not speak of one foundational moment or a grand history of international criminal law. Rather, there are many moments, histories, and contestations as societies in different places and times grappled with the problem of justice in the aftermath of atrocity”.

The overall theme of the HOICL Project is described in the leaflet ‘United by the Basics of International Criminal Law: Exploring its Historical Origins’.


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