“History of International Criminal Law” was the topic on which I was honored to present Wednesday alongside two eminent historians. Our session formed part of “Human Rights, Criminal Justice and International Law,” the 20th Specialization Course in International Criminal Law for Young Penalists organized by the Siracusa International Institute for Criminal Justice and Human Rights, under the direction of Professor William A. Schabas.
This annual summer course typically takes place on the island of Ortigia, the ancient quarter of Siracusa, a Sicilian city founded 2,700 years ago. This year found it online because of the pandemic. That happenstance enabled well over a hundred persons from around the world to attend.
My panel participants and I focused on a founding moment of international criminal law; specifically, the post-Wold War II international criminal courts and tribunals established at Nuremberg, Germany, Tokyo, Japan, and other sites in Europe and Asia.
First, Francine Hirsch, the Vilas Distinguished Achievement Professor of History at the University of Wisconsin-Madison (above center) presented “Nuremberg at 75: Revisiting the History of the International Military Tribunal and Its Lessons.” Drawing from her book Soviet Judgment at Nuremberg: A New History of the International Military Tribunal After World War II (Oxford University Press 2020), she argued that the participation of the Soviet Union was essential to what was achieved at Nuremberg.
Next, Kerstin von Lingen (above left), Professor of Contemporary History at the Department for Contemporary History of the University of Vienna, Austria, addressed “Crimes Against Humanity: A Neglected Concept within the Asian War Crimes Trials?” Her careful tracing of the origins of the ethical concept and legal doctrine of crimes against humanity talk drew upon her extensive research and publications related to the postwar emergence of international criminal justice in Europe and Asia – among these is her contribution and co-editorship of The Tokyo Tribunal: Perspectives on Law, History and Memory (Torkel Apsahl 2020), a Nuremberg Academy anthology to which I also contributed.
Yours truly, Diane Marie Amann (above right), Regents’ Professor of International Law at the University of Georgia School of Law, then discussed “Women and the Nuremberg-Tokyo Era.” Featured in my talk were the lawyers and other women professionals who are the subjects of my ongoing research, and about whom I have published here, here, and here.
Then followed a spirited Q&A, with queries, ranging from colonialism to sexual slavery to the substantive content of international criminal law, demonstrating the continued importance of exploration of the field’s early days.