International Criminal Law
Full course description
The object of this course is to provide an introduction into International Criminal Law as a field of law which imposes responsibilities - and criminal accountability - directly on individuals and punishes violations of specific prohibitions through international judicial mechanisms. After having a look at the emergence of international criminal law, the course will focus on the jurisdictional regime and admissibility issues before the International Criminal Court: How is the jurisdictional regime of the ICC different from other international(ized) tribunals and courts, and why? Who or what can trigger - or possibly challenge - a prosecution? Subsequently the course will take a closer look at substantive criminal law applicable before the ICC in order to establish what are the various elements of the so-called core crimes at the ICC (genocide, war crimes, crimes against humanity and the crime of aggression) and which principles and modes of criminal liability apply to individuals. For instance: when can we speak of genocide? What conduct amounts to a war crime? And also: How is criminal liability imposed in situations of command responsibility? In order to understand how this is done, the course will then explore international criminal procedure: what model/ system of procedural rules is used? Who are the actors involved? What are their rights? In its last part, the course will look at the challenges and possible alternatives to international criminal proceedings in order to understand the numerous obstacles that complicate the course of justice in this field of law and whether there are (better) alternatives to the proceedings before the ICC. Issues such as State cooperation with the ICC and possible conflicts of interests (e.g. immunity) will be addressed.
The course will consist of 7 tutorials and some additional expert lectures. The lectures will (mostly) be delivered by experts that operate in the field of international criminal law. They will provide students with special (insight and insider-) knowledge on how international criminal law functions and feels in action, and will give them a taste of the real problems and challenges faced by practitioners in the field. Next to the lectures, there will be case studies (with specific questions) that students will need to study and prepare in groups.
The aim of the course is to provide an idea of the origins and objectives of international criminal law, and to give an overview of the numerous challenges faced in this field of law. Furthermore, the course aims to make students familiar with the procedural system of certain international tribunals (such as the ICC) and with alternatives to international proceedings, such as truth and reconciliation commissions or national proceedings. The ultimate goal of the course is to provide students with the ability to apply legal provisions and theoretical knowledge to concrete cases.
- Good knowledge of substantive criminal law and criminal procedure
- Basic knowledge of international law, especially international humanitarian law
- R. Cryer, H. Friman, D. Robinson, E. Wilmshurst, An Introduction to International Criminal Law and Procedure, Cambridge University Press 2019, 4th ed.
- Additional literature indicated for each week
- R.M. Heemskerk