On 23 June 2015, The Hague Institute for Global Justice in collaboration with the Australian Embassy in The Hague, hosted a lecture by Professor Tim McCormack on the Tasmanian contribution to global criminal justice and the long standing connections between the Tasmanian islands and The Netherlands.
Introductory remarks from Mr. Nikola Dimitrov, Distinguished Fellow at The Hague Institute for Global Justice, and His Excellency Mr. Neil Mules, Ambassador of Australia to The Netherlands, preceded the lecture. Professor McCormack, who is originally from Tasmania, set out the historical connections between Dutch explorers and the Tasmanian islands, which are still evident in Tasmania today through family traditions, local landmarks and the local cuisine.
He also set out the invaluable contribution to the development of international law made by Dutch scholars, notably Hugo Grotius. Professor McCormack traced this international law tradition through the centuries, including The Hague Peace Conferences of 1899 and 1907, the building of the Peace Palace, and its housing of the Permanent Court of Arbitration and the Permanent Court of International Justice (followed by the International Court of Justice). In the intervening years, The Hague has been host to such a variety of international organizations, courts and tribunals, that by the time the International Criminal Court (ICC) was set up, The Hague seemed like the default choice for its seat.
Professor McCormack also explored the development of international criminal justice, from the ultimately abandoned proposals for prosecutions following the First World War, all the way to the current work of the ICC. He commented that, although earlier models of international criminal justice were imperfect, the international community has come a long way since. However, he also noted that the ICC is not yet seen as a comprehensive and impartial system for international criminal justice.
Finally, Professor McCormack set out the establishment of the Tim Hawkins Memorial Scholarship and commented on how this continues the thread of historical connection between Tasmania and The Netherlands, by sponsoring Tasmanian students to work in the field of international criminal justice in The Hague.