Saturday, June 20, 2020

Seminar: A Troubled History: Forcible Transfers and Deportations in International Criminal Law

On Wednesday, June 24, 2020, the University of Wollongong will hold a Zoom Seminar on "A Troubled History: Forcible Transfers and Deportations in International Criminal Law," at 12:30-1:30 pm AEST (Australian Eastern Standard Time). The speakers will be Victoria Colvin and Phil Orchard. The Zoom link is here. For questions, contact Dorothea Anthony (, Law School and Legal Intersections Research Centre, University of Wollongong. Here's the idea:
Forced transfers and deportations of civilian populations are a persistent, grim theme in atrocity crimes. Not only do the victims suffer the loss of homes, property, and community, but these acts also may be a prelude to other atrocity crimes. Criminalizing forced displacement not only responds to a major human rights and atrocities problem which is not directly covered by either refugee or international human rights law; it and can also serve an important deterrent effect. The conduct has long been recognized as potentially wrongful in international law. However, establishing and prosecuting international crimes in this area has been a lengthy and challenging process. We examine the historical development of prohibitions against forced displacement, particularly that forms of forcible transfer and deportations can constitute war crimes and crimes against humanity. In recent times, we turn to the record of three international and hybrid courts where prosecutions of these crimes have occurred: the ECCC, the ICTY, and the ICC. We identify several challenges in codifying and prosecuting these crimes. As with many international crimes, delineating the elements of the offences, and therefore the conduct which is criminal in the international sphere, has been controversial along two axes. Particular to these crimes is that despite the harmful nature of the displacement, they may also be committed either to protect populations from, or in lieu of, other atrocities such as genocide, but also for reasons of military necessity and public security. In addition, the nature of the relationship between the two offences of deportation, in which a border is crossed, and forcible transfers, where it is not, has been a persistent question. The result is that these issues in combination mean that there is both an impetus to and an impediment for the prosecution of deportations and forcible transfers.