Combating Impunity: The Hague Institute hosts Judicial Training on Core International Crimes

From 30 November to 2 December, The Hague Institute for Global Justice hosted a judicial training program organized by the European Judicial Training Network (EJTN) in cooperation with the European Network for investigation and prosecution of genocide, crimes against humanity and war crimes (European Genocide Network). Entitled Prosecuting and Judging Core International Crimes within the EU, the training was attended by judges and prosecutors from the EU member states with the goal of improving their understanding of issues pertaining to the investigation, prosecution and adjudication of international core crimes at the domestic level, as well as sharing knowledge and related best practices.

The event commenced with welcoming remarks by Dr. Abiodun Williams, President of The Hague Institute. Dr. Williams highlighted the commitment of the EU to the mission of the ICC. He also elaborated on the complementarity principle, characterizing the Rome Statute and the ICC as a comprehensive system of international justice and identifying the EU and its Member States as playing a leading role in strengthening complementarity and national capacity.

Following welcoming remarks by Judge Wojciech Postulski, Secretary General of the European Judicial Training Network, and Mr. Matevz Pezdirc, Head of the Genocide Network Secretariat, a keynote speech was delivered by Judge Silvia Fernandez de Gurmendi, President of the International Criminal Court.

Judge Fernandez provided a brief overview of the history and development of international criminal law, ranging from the Nuremberg trials to the ICC. She directed particular attention to the issues of legality and legitimacy of criminal tribunals. Judge Fernandez proceeded to illustrate subsequent trends of further criminalization of acts and expansion of jurisdiction, through instruments, such as the 1948 Convention on the Prevention and Punishment of the Crime of Genocide, and the 1949 Geneva Conventions and the Additional Protocols of 1977. Commenting further on the establishment of courts and tribunals, such as the ICTY, ICTR and ICC, during the 1990s, she noted how the issues of legality and legitimacy persist today. She ultimately concluded that while the treaty-based nature of the ICC enhances its legitimacy, this same feature also limits its powers.

Following Judge Fernandez’s speech, the training commenced with the first plenary session.

The training sessions consisted of a combination of lectures and workshops on a variety of issues, including the core crimes and modes of liability, as well as practical challenges, such as evidentiary challenges and international cooperation. These were facilitated by members from Dutch, Belgian and international judicial institutions, and included contributions by Dr. Aaron Matta, Senior Researcher in the Rule of Law Program of The Hague Institute.

The training program highlights the modalities and challenges of the prosecution and adjudication of core international crimes. Holding perpetrators accountable and providing redress to the victims of such acts are of particular importance to fostering a rule of law culture worldwide. The Hague Institute will continue to contribute to debate and facilitate the exchange of knowledge on this subject through its Rule of Law Program.

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