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The University of Southampton
Southampton Law School

The International Criminal Court: fit for purpose?

Published: 27 February 2012

Professor of International Law, William A. Schabas considered the issues in the annual lecture of Southampton Law School’s Centre for Law, Ethics and Globalisation (CLEG)

His talk on the future of the International Criminal Court, sponsored by Hart Publishing, Oxford, drew a large crowd of law students, academics and members of the public interested in the founding and development of this court of last resort.

“We were pleased Professor Schabas was able to join us to give us his thoughts on the progress of the ICC and are certain his lecture gave our students plenty of food for thought,” says Dr Oren Ben-Dor, Director of CLEG.

The ICC had its origins in 1918, when legal proceedings were proposed to try the defeated Kaiser Wilhelm II, although Germany’s last emperor avoided trial by going into exile in the Netherlands.

The idea was revived in 1993 and the court was established in 1998 with 120 countries signing up. Since then, a tribunal has successfully tried war criminals from the conflict in the former Yugoslavia and similar courts are dealing with the accused from the conflicts in Rwanda and Sierra Leone. Yet, over the last ten years, the ICC itself in The Hague has not completed a single prosecution.

Professor Schabas discussed possible reasons for the disparity in his lecture. “Despite the problems, I am not pessimistic,” he says. “I have watched the ICC grow and develop over the last 15 years and believe it will resolve its systems and procedures.”

He was happy to deliver the lecture at Southampton. “We had a good crowd and I was impressed with the quality of the contributions in the question and answer session. It’s clear there is a lot of interest and enthusiasm for international justice at the university.”

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