Eighteenth Summer Session of SLS

Draft Academic Programme and Draft List of Speakers

Achieving International Criminal Justice by Safeguarding the Principle of Equality for Unequal Perpetrators of Crimes Under International Law

The Salzburg Law School on International Criminal Law, Humanitarian Law and Human Rights Law (SLS) welcomes applications for its Eighteenth Summer Session, Sunday 31 July to Wednesday 10 August 2016. This year’s session will focus on perpetrators of crimes under international law.

Crimes under international law are not necessarily but commonly committed in a context of concerted violence. Isolated perpetrators are rare. Individuals usually commit crimes within a hierarchical structure of a state or a non-state group or in association with such an organization or its policy. Independent of this macro-criminal context, perpetrators are individually responsible and are judged according to their personal guilt. International criminal law does not approve of collective responsibility and has since Nuremberg retreated from the idea of criminal responsibility of organizations. The current status of criminal responsibility of legal persons under international law, including an evaluation of the decisions in contempt proceedings before the Special Tribunal for Lebanon, will be object of discussion at this year’s SLS.

Gilbert Bitti and Eleni Chaitidou at SLS 2014
Gilbert Bitti and Eleni Chaitidou at SLS 2014

SLS 2016 will assess the question of irrelevance of official capacity and immunities for crimes under international law before international and national courts. Notwithstanding the status of individuals within a hierarchical structure, the principle of equality guarantees that the law shall be applied to all persons without any distinction based on official capacity. A proposal to modify article 27 of the Rome Statute has so far been unsuccessful. But the introduction of a special procedural rule for persons fulfilling ‘extraordinary public duties’ (Rule 134quater of the ICC RPE) does seem at odds with the principle of equality before the law.

Beyond the principle of equality before the law, individual and contextual differences remain and may have an impact on the perception of justice: The state-centric nature of international law excludes certain groups of potential perpetrators from the legislative process. Positions of power may enable some alleged perpetrators to influence their case outside the courtroom, potentially even leading to changes of applicable law on a case-specific basis. Limited resources warrant prosecutorial strategies that prioritize specific groups of perpetrators over others.

Finally, who are the perpetrators of crimes under international law from a criminological point of view? What is the motivation of different actors to obey the law and what mechanisms lead them to break the law on a mass scale? Can types of perpetrators be categorized on the basis of past atrocities and can such categories be upheld in modern day conflicts? As part of this thematic cluster, participants will be invited to a screening of Oscar winner Stefan Ruzowitzky's 'Radical Evil' (2014), which explores the question of how 'ordinary men' turn into mass murders.

Luis Moreno Ocampo, David Donat Cattin, Otto Triffterer, and Chris Hall at SLS 2008
Luis Moreno Ocampo, David Donat Cattin, Otto Triffterer, and Chris Hall at SLS 2008

During the second week of the Eighteenth Summer Session, SLS will host a workshop on the situations in Georgia and Ukraine. We will discuss questions of public international law and international criminal law arising from these conflicts and we will evaluate the status of the respective ongoing investigation and preliminary examination at the ICC. Furthermore, we will assess continuing efforts to establish an international tribunal for the purpose of prosecuting persons responsible for crimes connected with the downing of Malaysia Airlines flight MH17 on 17 July 2014.

In addition, SLS will provide an opportunity to debate current developments in the field of international criminal law, e.g. the road towards the activation of the crime of aggression in 2017, the protection of cultural property under international humanitarian law and international criminal law, prosecutorial strategy, as well as the recent judgements of the ICTY in the Karadžić and the Šešelj cases. As in previous years, Court officials will provide an update on the latest jurisprudence of the ICC.

The SLS 2016 faculty includes, inter alia, Mr. Gilbert Bitti, Senior Legal Advisor to the Pre-Trial Division, ICC; Prof. Gleb Bogush, Associate Professor of Criminal law and Criminology at the Lomonosov Moscow State University and Lecturer of International Law at the Russian Academy of Justice; Dr. Konrad Bühler, Director, Department for International Law, Austrian Federal Ministry for Europe, Integration and Foreign Affairs; Ms. Eleni Chaitidou, Legal Officer at the Pre-Trial Division, ICC; Prof. Roger Clark, Board of Governors Professor, Rutgers University School of Law; Dr. David Donat Cattin, Secretary-General, Parliamentarians for Global Action; Adjunct Assistant Professor of International Law, Centre for Global Affairs, New York University; Prof. Benjamin Ferencz, A leading Nuremberg Prosecutor with continuous efforts to enhance international criminal law and its enforcement (lecture via video message); Prof. Charles Garraway, Fellow, Human Rights Centre, University of Essex; Member of the International Humanitarian Fact-Finding Commission; Former Stockton Professor of International Law, United States Naval War College; Prof. Gerhard Hafner, Emeritus Professor of International Law, University of Vienna and former member of the ILC; Prof. Flavia Lattanzi, Professor of International Law, LUISS-Guido Carli University Rome, Former Judge at the International Criminal Tribunal for the Former Yugoslavia and at the International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda; Prof. Frédéric Mégret, Associate Professor of Law, Canada Research Chair on the Law of Human Rights and Legal Pluralism, McGill University; Judge Daniel N. Nsereko, Judge at the Special Tribunal for Lebanon; Former Judge at the International Criminal Court; Professor of Law, University of Botswana at Gaborone; Prof. Alette Smeulers, Professor in International Criminology at the Universities of Tilburg and Groningen; Dr. Astrid Reisinger Coracini, Lecturer, University of Salzburg; Director of the Salzburg Law School on International Criminal Law, Humanitarian Law and Human Rights Law.

The academic programme will run from Monday 1 through Tuesday 9 August, daily from 9.30 a.m. to 1 p.m. and 2.15 p.m. to 5.45 p.m. with a free Saturday afternoon and Sunday. Sunday 31 July and Wednesday 10 August are our days of arrival and departure respectively. During these eight working days, 26 academic sessions of 1,5hrs are offered (equalling 2 academic hours and 52 academic contact hours in total). The course consists of lectures, discussions, workshops and case studies, allowing for discussion and interaction among lecturers and participants. It will be held at the Faculty of Law of the University of Salzburg, located at a 16th century residence in the centre of the old town.

Participants will obtain a certificate of attendance, but may also take an exam, for which the University of Salzburg allocates 4 credits according to the European Credit Transfer System.

View Past SLS Programmes