Thursday, 16 April 2015

The International Criminal Court Summer School 2015: 15-19 June 2015, NUI Galway, Ireland

The ICC Summer School at the Irish Centre for Human Rights is the premier summer school on the International Criminal Court, the world’s permanent institution for the trial of international crimes. This year’s ICC Summer School will take place from 15-19 June 2015 at NUI Galway, Ireland. The Summer School comprises a series of intensive and interactive lectures over five days given by leading academics and legal professionals working at the International Criminal Court. Participants are provided with a detailed working knowledge of the establishment of the Court, its structures, operations, and applicable law. Specific topics covered include international crimes (genocide, war crimes, crimes against humanity & aggression), jurisdiction, modes of liability, the role of victims and prosecutorial discretion. This year’s Summer School will include a special session on Palestine and the International Criminal Court, which will involve the participation of the Palestinian Ambassador to Ireland, Ambassador Ahmad Abdelrazek. The Summer School is suited to postgraduate students, legal professionals, journalists and staff of civil society or intergovernmental organisations.

The 2015 ICC Summer School faculty includes:

Professor William Schabas – Middlesex University & Irish Centre for Human Rights
Professor Kevin Jon Heller – School of Oriental and African Studies, London
Dr. Fabricio Guariglia – Office of the Prosecutor at the International Criminal Court
Dr. Mohamed M. El Zeidy – Pre-Trial Chamber II at the International Criminal Court
Dr. Rod Rastan – Office of the Prosecutor at the International Criminal Court
Professor Ray Murphy – Irish Centre for Human Rights, NUI Galway
Professor Don Ferencz, Visiting Professor, School of Law, Middlesex University; Research Associate, Oxford University Faculty of Law Centre for Criminology
Dr. Kwadwo Appiagyei Atua – University of Ghana and University of Lincoln
Dr. Michael Kearney – School of Law, Sussex University
Dr. Noelle Higgins – Senior Lecturer, Law Department Maynooth University
Ms. Salma Karmi-Ayyoub – Barrister, London
Dr. Nadia Bernaz – School of Law, Middlesex University
Mr. John McManus – Canadian Department of Justice
Professor Megan A. Fairlie – Florida International University
Dr. Mohamed Badar – Northumbria University, United Kingdom
Dr. Shane Darcy – Irish Centre for Human Rights, NUI Galway

The deadline for availing of the early bird registration fee of €400 has been extended until 20 April 2015, with the fee for registrations after that date being €450. The closing date for registrations is 30 May 2015. The registration fee includes all course materials, all lunches and refreshments, a social activity and a closing dinner. The registration fee also includes a complimentary copy of: William A. Schabas, Introduction to the International Criminal Court (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2011, 4th ed.).

To register and for more information, please visit our website at:

Should you have any queries, please email:

Sunday, 12 April 2015

On the Road towards an EU Criminal Justice System: Problems, Achievements and Prospects

Dr Andrea Ryan, of the University of Limerick, has organised a fascinating conference on EU Criminal Justice, which will take place on 21 and 22 May. The full programme and further information is available here. 

Wednesday, 18 March 2015

Women, Peace and Security (8 - 19 June 2015)
Challenges and Achievements
In 2000, the UN Security Council adopted Resolution 1325, the first in a series of six resolutions on Women, Peace and Security, which not only recognizes the disproportionate impact of armed conflict on women but also stresses the crucial importance of including women in all phases of peace processes to ensure sustainable peace and security. Experience has shown that the challenges to implementing these resolutions remain significant. A great deal remains to be done in the areas of gender justice, reflecting on masculinities, peace-building, conflict transformation and the promotion of human rights. This course provides a forum for learning and exchange. It will offer insights to the Women, Peace and Security agenda and a unique opportunity to network with professionals from different regions, countries and contexts. Confirmed faculty includes Prof. Cees Flinterman (member UN Human Rights Committee/former CEDAW member), Prof. Rikki Holtmaat (Leiden University), Prof. William Schabas (Leiden University) and Prof. Dubravka Zarkov (International Institute for Social Studies). Professionals and advanced students with a clear interest in the theme are invited to apply.
International Criminal Law (22 June - 3 July 2015)
From Theory to Practice
This summer school offers a unique opportunity to gain expertise in international criminal law in the International City of Peace and Justice in just two weeks time. The course, which welcomes around 50 participants from all over the world, combines theory with practice: academics from Leiden University and experts from the international courts and tribunals lecture on topics as genocide, crimes against humanity, the crime of aggression, war crimes and modes of liability, while students develop their skills through an inter-active cross-examination session with senior trial lawyers from the Office of the Prosecutor of the International Criminal Court and a challenging moot court exercise. Confirmed faculty includes Prof. Niels Blokker, (Leiden University), Prof. William Schabas (Leiden University), Dr. Philipp Ambach (ICC), Dr. Mohamed M. El Zeidy (ICC), Hirad Abtahi (ICC), Gilbert Bitti (ICC), Alexis Demirdjian (ICTY), Geoff Roberts (STL), Coleen Rohan (International Criminal Law Bureau) and Niamh Hayes (Institute for International Criminal Investigations). Young professionals and (law) students with a clear interest in the topic are invited to apply.
International Children’s Rights (6 - 10 July 2015)
Frontiers of Children’s Rights
Frontiers of Children’s Rights takes a close look at contemporary children's rights issues from a legal perspective, accompanied by reflections from other academic disciplines, legal systems, local perceptions and realities. Leading academic and professional experts in the field of children's rights, international law and other relevant disciplines offer inspiring and interactive lectures, seminars and excursions in and around the historical university town of Leiden. The sessions will focus on children’s rights and juvenile justice, children’s rights and alternative care, children’s rights and global issues, children’s rights and international criminal law, children’s rights and the virtual world and monitoring children’s rights. Confirmed faculty includes Prof. Ton Liefaard (UNICEF Chair in Children’s Rights at Leiden University), Prof. Julia Sloth-Nielsen (Professor of Children’s Rights in the Developing World at  Leiden University), Prof. Jaap Doek (Former Chair UN Committee on the Rights of the Child), Prof. Ursula Kilkelly (University College Cork), Ms. Tulika Bansal (Danish Institute for Human Rights) and Dr. Christian Salazar (UNICEF).
Children’s Rights and Business (6 - 9 July 2015)
Children are Everyone’s Business
Business has enormous power to improve children’s lives through the way in which they operate facilities, develop and market products, provide services, and exert influence on economic and social development. Conversely, business has the power to disregard or even imperil the interests of children. This course, offered in close cooperation with UNICEF, provides a comprehensive overview of the framework that has been developed to guide business’ interactions with children, including the standards and tools that are available to companies and governments.  The sessions will cover The UN Guiding Principles on Business and Human Rights as a framework for a focus on children, Children’s Rights and Business Principles, company management processes and practices for advancing children’s rights, the governmental responsibility to protect children’s rights in the context of business activities, the role of civil society and international organizations in promoting and protecting children’s rights in the context of business activities and child rights in the context of the travel and tourism as well as the extractives industries. Company representatives, staff of international organizations, government employees and graduate students with a demonstrated interest in this topic are invited to apply. 
Human Rights and Transitional Justice (13 - 17 July 2015)
Justice , Reparations and Development
The relationship between human rights, transitional  justice and development requires fresh attention. The field of transitional justice has evolved in the past decade to include social, economic, cultural and legal dimensions, and to cover larger objectives such as rule of law and development. While a more holistic view on transitions might be welcome, the different fields may conflict with each other.  Justice actors are not development agents, nor are development actors necessarily best agents for accountability, truth or reparations. Making development assistance contingent on rule of law reform may be counterproductive, since it may create dependencies or discrepancies in relation to needs of protection or other more pressing socio-economic needs (health, education, access to resources etc.). Conversely, promoting justice through instruments of development may have significant downsides. As evidenced in the transitional justice context, awarding reparation through development programmes may leave victims with a feeling that their suffering is not sufficiently recognized. More work is required to identify how the mutual synergies between these fields may be used most effectively to the benefit of all of them. This is the central inquiry of this Summer School. It explores linkages, as well as tensions between justice processes, reparations and development. Confirmed faculty includes Djordje Djordjevic (UNDP), Roger Duthie (ICTJ), Paul Seils (ICTJ), Prof. William Schabas (Leiden University) and Marieke Wierda (Transitional Justice Advisor UNSMIL). Professionals and advanced students with a background in law or human rights are invited to apply.
Advocacy and Litigation Training Course (13 - 17 July 2015)
Advocacy and Litigation before International Courts & Tribunals 
During this intensive course, run by two highly experienced international criminal defence lawyers, participants will be engaged in role play and practical exercises and improve their advocacy and litigation skills. The training will focus on the skills of case theory, opening statements, direct examination (examination-in-chief), cross-examination (previous inconsistent statements), re-examination, closing statements and legal submissions skills. The course will be concluded with a mock trial at the end of the week, in which participants can apply their acquired knowledge and skills. Apart from the theory and the practical exercises, the course includes visits to the International Criminal Court and the Special Tribunal for Lebanon. A special guest lecture will be given by a leading Defence Counsel at the Special Tribunal for Lebanon. Professionals as well as graduate law students who wish to develop and improve their advocacy skills are invited to register.
More information and registration:

Monday, 9 March 2015

Two new PhDs in international criminal law

From left: Irini Katsirea (chair), Anthony Cullen, myself, Izevbuwa Kehinde and Ray Murphy.

From left: David Keane (chair), Elvira Dominguez, Payam Akhavan (on screen), Tatiana Batchvarova, myself and Anthony Cullen.
Two Middlesex students successfully defended their doctoral theses today. Both were in the area of international criminal law. This morning, Izevbuwa Kehinde presented her thesis on the impact of international criminal courts and tribunals in the Commonwealth. Prof. Ray Murphy of the National University of Ireland Galway was the external examiner and Dr Anthony Cullen was the internal examiner. The supervisors were myself and Dr Nadia Bernaz. In the afternoon, Tatiana Batchvarova defended her thesis on the standing of victims in the procedural design of the International Criminal Court. Prof. Payam Akhavan of McGill University was the external examiner and Dr Elvira Dominguez was the international examiner. The supervisors were myself and Dr Anthony Cullen. Congratulations to Izevbuwa and Tatiana.

Saturday, 14 February 2015

Moratorium on death penalty in Pennsylvania

The Governor of Pennsylvania has declared a moratorium on capital punishment in the state. Governor Wolf said: 'This moratorium is in no way an expression of sympathy for the guilty on death row, all of whom have been convicted of committing heinous crimes. This decision is based on a flawed system that has been proven to be an endless cycle of court proceedings as well as ineffective, unjust, and expensive. Since the reinstatement of the death penalty, 150 people have been exonerated from death row nationwide, including six men in Pennsylvania.'
Slowly but surely the death penalty is in decline in the United States. This trend will provide the legal basis for the Supreme Court to declare that capital punishment is incompatible with 'evolving standards of decency' enshrined in the 8th amendment.
Thanks to Brian Farrell.

Wednesday, 11 February 2015

Dr Yingxi Bi

Yingxi Bi successfully defended her doctoral thesis this morning at the Irish Centre for Human Rights, National University of Ireland Galway. The title was 'Drug Control Policies and Human Rights'. The examiners were Prof. Elies van Sleidregt, dean of the law school of the Free University of Amsterdam, and Dr Shane Darcy. From left: Shane, Elies, Yingxi and myself. Congratulations, Dr Bi! And happy new year!

Tuesday, 10 February 2015

Georgia and the Issues of "Legal Transplants"

In December of last year, the OSCE's Office for Democratic Institutions and Human Rights released a fascinating report on its trial monitoring activities in Georgia. In 2009, following significant input from USAID and other international donors, Georgia adopted an amended Code of Criminal Procedure, described by the US Embassy in Georgia as introducing 'a full adversarial system to criminal courts.'

The OSCE's report reveals inadequate judicial intervention on key issues of case management - in one case, the prosecution proposed that it would call 4,000 witnesses, and the pre-trial judge granted this request, refusing 'to assess the relevance and necessity of the witnesses, or discuss the defendants’ right to a timely hearing'. The imposition of a party-led approach to replace Georgia's old inquisitorial system appears to have led to something of a non-interventionist judicial approach in the trials observed, where on a number of occasions, the prosecution was permitted to call defendants as witnesses for the prosecution, without those defendants being told by the judges of their right to remain silent. 

These elements, combined with a reluctance to halt inappropriate or irrelevant questioning of witnesses, permitting discussion of the accused's criminal record during trial, and a general passivity in courtroom management matters, present something of a caricatured view of the adversarial legal system. Georgia's experience illustrates some of the difficulties that can be faced when elements of one legal system are transplanted to another. In the words of Professor Damaška, 'In their natural habitat, each set of practices is part of a larger procedural whole, with its own internal coherence.... Creating a successful mixture is not like shopping in a boutique of detachable procedural forms, in which one is free to purchase some and reject others.'

Corporate liability for contempt at the Special Tribunal for Lebanon: the saga continues

I have blogged previously on decisions (see here and here) regarding the STL's evolving jurisprudence on the liability of corporations for offences against the administration of justice. As will be recalled, on 2 October last year, the Appeals Panel of the STL overturned Contempt Judge Lettieri's finding that the Tribunal could not have jurisdiction over legal persons, and affirmed the case against the New TV news corporation. A little over a month later, Judge Lettieri once again ruled that the Tribunal had no jurisdiction over legal persons, this time in relation to the Al-Akhbar Beirut newspaper. Perhaps unsurprisingly, the Appeals Panel also overturned this finding in its most recent (and presumably, final) decision on the matter. 

The decision is, to my mind, the most coherent on the issue of jurisdiction over corporations for contempt offences. In line with an argument I made in my last blog post on this matter, it finds the strongest justification for such jurisdiction in the fact that Lebanese law, which the STL applies, provides for jurisdiction over corporations. In the words of the Appeals Panel (para 59), 'It would be an oddity for a Lebanese company to face criminal sanction in Lebanon for interfering with the administration of justice with respect to cases before Lebanese Courts and at the same time enjoy impunity for similar acts before an internationalised Tribunal guided by Lebanese law in carrying out its judicial work.' This is much more convincing than earlier decisions that referred to the vague principle of ending impunity or strained textual analyses of the Statute and Rules in finding that such jurisdiction over legal persons existed.

The reference to the tribunal as being 'internationalised', as opposed to the more frequent line of it being a 'tribunal of international character', is noteworthy. Indeed, a factsheet on the STL's website conflates the concepts of 'international' and 'hybrid or internationalised' tribunals by calling the STL both at different parts of the document. So, which is it? Following Schabas's suggestion in Unimaginable Atrocities, I think the wisest approach to distinguishing between 'international' and 'hybrid' tribunals is not to look at the judicial composition or the crimes prosecuted, but rather to ask whether the tribunal could be closed down by means of passing a domestic law. This is not the case for the STL, nor was it for the SCSL, so they are international tribunals. The ECCC, War Crimes Chambers in BiH and the SPSC, by contrast, were all founded by domestic legislation, and thus they are classified as 'internationalised' or 'hybrid' tribunals.

It is unfortunate that the decision did not directly tackle the issue of stare decisis, or whether lower chambers of the STL are bound by earlier appeals decisions. Instead, it referred rather vaguely to the principles of 'consistency, certainty and predictability' and underscored the similarities between this case and the New TV case. It found that it would have been 'preferable and important for judicial certainty' for the Contempt Judge to have followed the earlier Appeals Panel decision on that basis. In his November 2014 decision, Judge Lettieri had expressly dismissed the 'consistency' argument by referring to the fragmentation that would be caused by finding that one international criminal tribunal had jurisdiction over legal persons, where other tribunals do not have such jurisdiction. Rather than overturning the decision on such malleable principles as consistency, the Appeals Panel might have been better served by more explicitly following the approach taken by other tribunals, that existing jurisprudence should be departed from only where careful consideration has been given as to whether there are 'cogent reasons in the interests of justice' for such a departure. Ironically, the Appeals Panels decision leaves us without the 'certainty and predictability' it values in this respect.