Historical Injustices, Reparations and International Law

Completed in October 2016

Since the end of World War II, claims for reparations for historical injustices (including the Holocaust, the oppression of indigenous peoples in Australia, New Zealand and the United States, as well as the enduring legacy of slavery and institutional racism among African Americans) have become a central element of national politics and international diplomacy.

Investigating the Relevance of International Law

This project, funded by the Swiss National Science Foundation (SNSF), investigated the relevance of international law in relation to such demands for reparation.

While the topic of reparation has increasingly become the focus of scholarly interest, a holistic approach to this issue, combining theoretical notions of international law with considerations of practicality and morality, is still largely missing in the literature. This project intended to fill this gap by providing a comprehensive assessment of victims’ reparations claims in light of recent developments in international law. At the same time, it paid special attention to the legal and moral dilemmas that may arise in the process of shaping and implementing reparations programmes – especially in situations of transition from civil war and dictatorship towards peace and democracy.

Research Team

This research project was carried out by Frank Haldemann and Rachelle Kouassi.

OUTPUT

Conducted between 2011 and 2016, this research has involved two PhD projects: one of a normative nature, concerned with the legal foundations and limits of a right to reparation; the other more empirical, exploring the practice of reparation programmes. The results of the research have been published in a number of scientific articles, contributions and book chapters (see below).

Moreover, a number of workshops and conferences were organized to enable a wider scholarly debate related to the various research topics covered by the project.

MORE ON THIS THEMATIC AREA

News

MAS in Transitional Justice, Human Rights and the Rule of Law: What Alumni Say

February 2020

Juan Daniel Salazar is the Head of Cooperation and Strategic Alliances at Colombia’s National Center of Historical Memory, a national state institution in charge of the symbolic reparations for the victims of the Colombian armed conflict. He tells about the programme and what it brought to his career.

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Portrait of Ramzi Kaiss in front of the ICRC News

MAS in Transitional Justice, Human Rights and the Rule of Law: What our Students Say

January 2020

Ramzi Kaiss comes from Beirut and has been working in the US and Lebanon on issues related to genocide, mass atrocities and memory. Currently enrolled in our MAS in Transitional Justice, Human Rights and the Rule of Law, he tells us about the programme and life in Geneva.

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UN Peacekeepers on Patrol in Abyei, Sudan. Zambian peacekeepers from the United Nations Mission in Sudan (UNMIS) patrol streets lined with looted items awaiting collection in Abyei, the main town of the disputed Abyei area on the border of Sudan and newly Project

The Intersection between Transitional Justice, International Security and Responsibility to Protect

Started in February 2017

This project aims at mapping various existing accountability mechanisms, in the context of military interventions, through the lens of the requirements of a transitional justice process in order to identify possibilities and gaps.

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ICC Trial Chamber VIII declares Mr Al Mahdi guilty of the war crime of attacking historic and religious buildings in Timbuktu and sentences him to nine years’ imprisonment Project

Modes of Liability for International Crimes

Completed in January 2015

This project intends to clarify the conditions of accountability for international crimes by providing a detailed assessment of the customary international law status of, in particular, the actus reus and mens rea elements of modes of liability: planning, instigating, conspiracy, direct and indirect perpetration, co-perpetration, the three forms of joint criminal enterprise, the doctrine of common purpose under the Rome Statute of the International Criminal Court, command responsibility and aiding and abetting.

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Cover page of the book Publication

Modes of Liability in International Criminal Law

published on July 2019

Jérôme de Hemptinne, Robert Roth, Elies van Sliedregt

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