Seventeenth Summer Session of SLS. Draft Academic Programme

Strategies to Narrow the Impunity Gap: Improving the Effectiveness of International Criminal Law and Exploring Alternative Forms of Accountability

The Salzburg Law School on International Criminal Law, Humanitarian Law and Human Rights Law (SLS) welcomes applications for its Seventeenth Summer Session, Sunday 2 to Wednesday 12 August 2015. This year’s session will critically assess the notion of an ‘international criminal justice system’ and will glimpse beyond the framework of criminal justice for inclusive strategies to fight impunity.

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

The ‘international criminal justice system’ is a recurring notion in international criminal law discourse. But does such a system already exist or is it still a legal desideratum? Is it a framework that requires completion to function properly or one that requires reform to function in a more comprehensive and efficient way? SLS will have a closer look at how to reconcile this analytical concept with what may still be seen as a piece-meal approach to the enforcement of international criminal law. The adoption of the Rome Statute in 1998 establishing an International Criminal Court (ICC), complementary to national jurisdictions, was undoubtedly a success. A permanent criminal court was a clear signal to end a culture of impunity for the commission of the most serious crimes of concern to the international community as a whole. The Court was faced with divergent expectations and overwhelming enthusiasm eventually made place for more balanced views of what role the ICC could or should play. Still, increased critique at both technical and political levels seems to have had an impact on confidence in the Court. SLS will evaluate such points of critique as well as ongoing efforts to counter shortcomings. We will discuss the judicial function of preliminary examinations as well as their potential deterrent effect and role as a trigger for national proceedings. We will further have a closer look at the effect of prosecutorial policies to potentially narrowing or widening the impunity gap. We will examine the impact of high-level cases and sovereign concerns on the judicial function of the Court as well as the aspired effect of thematic prosecutorial strategies, e.g. on sexual and gender-based crimes. Finally, we will consider potential lessons learnt from the Court’s first trials and suggestions to promote the effectiveness of the ICC.

The Court relies to a large extent on the primary responsibility of states to prosecute crimes under international law. But are states ready to fulfil their role in a system of international criminal justice? The number of states with legislation establishing the legal prerequisites for national prosecution is increasing but not yet universal. States willing to prosecute core crimes may face various obstacles. SLS will discuss questions relating to the complexities and practical challenges of cases involving core international crimes. While for some states these may be solved by developing capacities and the use of technology, others pursue ways to increase inter-state cooperation, for instance through a convention on crimes against humanity or a convention of mutual legal assistance for the prosecution of core crimes.

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

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 or the recent ICC appeals chamber judgment in the Lubanga case establishing the necessary minimum elements required of a reparations order and the principles governing the reparations for victims. Court officials will provide insights of the work at the Office of the Prosecution, the Pre-Trial Chambers, and the Victims Participation and Reparations Section.

At its Seventeenth Summer Session, SLS will engage in the wider discourse of transitional justice. How do judicial and non-judicial measures complement each other in the fight against impunity? What are the available tools, in particular in post conflict situations, to establish a comprehensive and sustainable framework to face past atrocities and prevent their future commission? SLS will discuss transitional justice theory and mechanisms as well as a case study of the experience in Burundi.

Participants will be invited to a screening of the documentary “WATCHERS OF THE SKY” (2015), exploring the legacy of Raphael Lemkin on a journey from Nuremberg to The Hague, from Bosnia to Darfur.

The SLS 2015 faculty includes, Prof. Olympia Bekou, Professor of Public International Law and Head, International Criminal Justice at Human Rights Law Centre, School of Law, University of Nottingham; Mr. Gilbert Bitti, Senior Legal Advisor to the Pre-Trial Division, ICC; 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. Don Ferencz, Convenor, The Global Institute for the Prevention of Aggression; Visiting Professor, School of Law, Middlesex University; Research Associate, Oxford University Faculty of Law Centre for Criminology; Mr. Orchlon Narantsetseg, LL.M., Legal Officer, Office of Public Counsel for Victims, ICC; Dr. Rod Rastan, Legal Adviser, Jurisdiction, Complementarity and Cooperation Division, Office of the Prosecutor, ICC; Prof. William A. Schabas, OC MRIA, Professor of International Law, School of Law, Middlesex University, Professor of International Criminal Law and Human Rights, Leiden University; Mr. David Tolbert, President, International Center for Transitional Justice; Prof. Jennifer Trahan, Associate Clinical Professor of Global Affairs, New York University, Chair, American Branch of the International Law Association ICC Committee, American Bar Association, ICC Task Force; Mr. Thomas Unger, LL.M., E.MA., Adviser to the UN Special Rapporteur on Truth, Justice, Reparation and Guarantees of Non-Recurrence; Researcher, Geneva Academy of International Humanitarian Law and Human Rights; 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 3 through Tuesday 11 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 2 and Wednesday 12 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