On 15 October 2021, the International Nuremberg Principles Academy welcomed international criminal or related law and justice experts worldwide for Day 1 of its Nuremberg Forum 2021.
This year’s conference, taking place virtually, and over two days, featured practitioners, including lawyers and judges, varied- justice experts, young professionals, and academics to discuss the common fight against impunity and its living up to the Nuremberg Principles. The main objective of the forum is to reflect on the various challenges connected with the common fight against impunity and the Nuremberg Principles.
Highlights from Day 1 included:
Reaffirmed significance of the Nuremberg Principles – recalling its perseverance throughout the years, and continued relevance, while shedding light on the important work of the International Law Commission towards advancing the universal application of these principles and advancing international criminal law.
Need to enhance further understanding and application of the Nuremberg Principles – experts highlighted the need to continue exploring the understanding, application, and scope of the Nuremberg Principles, especially in the developing ICL field and ever-changing landscape of international law. Enhancing critical understanding is especially crucial.
Contextual understanding is imperative – especially in the context of the fight against impunity. Understanding the proper context eases the addressing of challenges through the lens of inclusiveness, effectiveness, and long-term stability.
Importance of the dialogue – the forum highlighted the importance of continued, open, and practical – result-oriented – dialogue towards addressing the fight's aspirations against impunity and enhancing the understanding of the complexity behind some of the situations worldwide.
Communication is and remains key – clarity in terms of objectives, decisions, and strategy taken in various justice-related efforts remains key. It enhances the general public’s understanding and overall legitimacy of the action taken with respect to the given goal.
Many achievements of ICL – including the establishment of the first permanent criminal court, the ICC, setting out of a normative framework, crystalisation of the international criminal law, and enhancement of universal application of the Nuremberg Principles.
Justice is needed, but delivering justice is a complex reality – much work remains to be done and the question is how will this work be undertaken as many challenges have been highlighted in the fight against impunity framework. The ICC, as such, cannot achieve justice for everybody and on its own.
International criminal law versus criminal justice – ICL has been pieced as a small puzzle in the wider justice toolkit discussion, with the ICC taking on an essential and central role. However, experts also highlighted the importance of other and complementing objectives aimed at achieving ending impunity. Reflection on varied efforts might be worthwhile.
International criminal justice is a system and as such needs strengthening – the question remains how this should be done, and done in such a way as to have it reflect and encompass various objectives and aspirations.
Various challenges pertain, including:
- Understanding the impact of the ICC and other justice-related efforts;
- Situating the ICC in the context of the international legal order;
- Setting out realistic objectives to manage the international community’s expectations, or to achieve a successful completion or impact assessment;
- Including reflecting on the domestic capabilities in the given moment in time;
- Pertaining the peace versus justice debate, and correlated with that the setting of varied objectives;
- Conflicts are changing. They are becoming more mixed, and involve various (and new) actors, standards and norms should be reflecting these realities;
- Definitions and applications of norms might vary in different countries, and there are many complexities behind the implementation of these norms in relation to domestic prosecution and practices. This should be explored more;
- Core international crimes are being redefined, both in terms of the scope of their applicability, and in terms of understanding which ones fall under the umbrella of ‘shocking the consciousness’ of humanity;
- This includes the reflection on the notion of complicity. There is a question of whether corporate complicity should be further revisited, including the financial crimes, and the financing of core international crimes.
Looking at Day 2, the Nuremberg Forum 2021 will continue dissecting various challenges related to the fight against impunity with the intention to explore whether this fight is living up to the Nuremberg Principles. It will seek to continue focusing on listing the challenges, and the way forward as we seek to address these challenges, hoping to advance ICL.
We look forward to our continued reflection.