Friday, December 5, 2008

Conference: War Crimes - Retrospectives and Perspectives

SOLON, the Institute of Advanced Legal Studies, and the Centre for Contemporary British History will sponsor a conference on "War Crimes - Retrospectives and Perspectives," February 20-21, 2009, in London, at the Institute of Advanced Legal Studies. The program is not yet available online. Here's a description:
This conference is an initiative between SOLON, the Institute of Advanced Legal Studies and the Centre for Contemporary British History to examine the issue of war crimes broadly construed, exploring ways in which, it has been argued by those concerned with the issue (whether as victims, perpetrators, witnesses, adjudicators or commentators), that identifying war crimes and the perpetrators of these crimes are essential as a key part of post-conflict resolution. But, is there a universally shared comprehension of what constitutes ‘war crime’? How far has it been necessary, in defining and prosecuting war crimes in the modern age, to go beyond the articles of Geneva and other Conventions and customary international norms when dealing with grave incidents perceived as having an ‘international’ dimension? Does there need to be an international dimension to war crimes? Are national governments immune from such charges against their own citizens? How ‘new’ are war crimes, given that our conceptions of what constitutes a crime are often moulded and constrained by the past. Alternatively, how much of that legal past has been ‘forgotten’ and/or ignored, even within the precedents and definitions of grave international crimes? In addition, how far should media and other public comments on war crimes be aware of the law if they are to report in a balanced and ethical fashion? What constitutes a ‘war zone’ requiring international intervention? Is it desirable to let states and societies work out their own solutions? A key focus will thus be on the strategies that are, or could be, utilised when dealing with war crimes, including ways in which these intersect with the more apparently ‘local’ concepts of hate crime and its management.