Leading NGOs Support the Work of the UN International Law Commission on Drafting Articles for a New Global Convention

On 16 February 2016, several leading non-governmental organizations submitted a letter to Special Rapporteur Professor Sean Murphy in support of the current work of the International Law Commission on crimes against humanity.  The letter underscored the importance of certain key provisions for the ILC’s consideration as the Commission prepares to meet in summer 2016 to discuss the Second Report on the draft articles for a global convention on crimes against humanity.  Read the Letter from the NGOs.

UN General Assembly Sixth Committee Discusses a Global Convention on Crimes Against Humanity

In November 2015, the UN General Assembly’s Legal Committee (also known as the Sixth Committee) in New York discussed the need for a global convention on the prevention and punishment of crimes against humanity. Thirty-seven countries specifically addressed the proposed draft articles presented in the Report by International Law Commission Special Rapporteur on Crimes Against Humanity, Professor Sean Murphy, largely in support of international collaboration.  more 

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Simultaneously, Members of the International Law Commission, international and national legal experts in international criminal law, and members of the Crimes Against Humanity Initiative’s Steering Committee also met in Nuremberg, Germany for a Workshop on the Drafting of a Convention on the Prevention and Punishment of Crimes Against Humanity.  Discussions at the two-day workshop will inform the next draft report by Professor Murphy, and presumably the views of the Commission next summer when it reconvenes.  more

Prof. Leila Sadat Presents on the Need for a CAH Treaty to Prestigious Audience in Portugal

On April 20, 2015, Prof. Leila Sadat gave a presentation regarding the need for a new global treaty on crimes against humanity at the Universidade Católica Portuguesa.  In attendance were students, administrators, faculty, deans and members of Portugal’s Supreme Court. In particular, the presentation was attended by the President of the Portuguese Supreme Court, Justice António Henriques Gaspar, Justice Maria dos Prazeres Beleza, also from the Supreme Court of Justice and the Portugal’s Attorney General Joana Marques Vidal. Prominent members of the Academy were also present, including the Dean of the Lisbon School of Law of the Universidade Católica Portuguesa, Professor Jorge Pereira da Silva, Professor Germano Marques da Silva, a former Dean of Lisbon School of Law and a Criminal Law Professor, Professor Luís Barreto Xavier, the Dean of Católica Global School of Law and Professor Gonçalo Matias, Director of Católica Global’s Transnational Law Program, and special adviser to Portuguese President Aníbal Cavaco Silva.

There was a robust discussion about the need for and technical aspects of a possible new treaty on crimes against humanity. Students from Católica Global Law School have undertaken to prepare a Portuguese translation of the Proposed International Convention for the Prevention and Punishment of Crimes Against Humanity, under the direction of Professor Gonçalo Matias. A Portuguese translation will make the number of languages the treaty is available in eight; English, French, Spanish, Arabic, Russian, German and Chinese translations can be read here .

Senator Durbin’s Speech Highlights ABA Working Group on Crimes Against Humanity

U.S. Senator Dick Durbin (D-Illinois) will reintroduce Crimes Against Humanity (CAH) legislation in Congress. Referring to the lack of such legislation as a “legal loophole,” he explained that “[d]espite longstanding U.S. support for the prosecution of crimes against humanity committed in World War II … in Pol Pot’s Cambodia, Rwanda, the former Yugoslavia, Sierra Leone and elsewhere … there is no U.S. law prohibiting crimes against humanity.” Senator Durbin’s initiative to reintroduce CAH legislation coincides with the recently formed ABA Working Group on CAH, of which Professor Leila Sadat, Director of the Harris Institute, is an inaugural member.

To read more and to watch Senator Durban’s speech, visit: http://bit.ly/1Hc0nxb

Recent articles in the Economist and The Hill highlights the gap in U.S. and international law as it relates to crimes against humanity

“Seventy years after the liberation of the Nazi concentration camps, many countries lack the legal authority to prosecute war criminals and perpetrators of atrocities and give redress to victims.” Genocide, and a number of war crimes, including torture and enforced disappearance, have dedicated UN treaties, but there is still none which covers crimes against humanity. Moreover, there is a gap in U.S. legislation that limits the country’s ability to bring perpetrators who are in its custody to justice.

Read more at:
The Economist: http://econ.st/1zl77lY
The Hill: http://bit.ly/1Hc0bhx

UN International Law Commission adds the topic of “crimes against humanity” onto its active agenda.

This important development follows the Experts’ Meeting entitled “Fulfilling the Dictates of Public Conscience: Moving Forward with a Convention on Crimes Against Humanity” and the subsequent conference Report published on July 17, 2014. Convened by the Crimes Against Humanity Initiative, the meeting in Geneva brought together leading experts in international criminal law, including members of the International Law Commission, to discuss the complex issues the ILC will face as it begins the study and drafting process of a global convention on crimes against humanity.  More