On 16 October 2021, the International Nuremberg Principles Academy (Nuremberg Academy) welcomed international criminal or related law and justice experts from around the world for Day 2 of its Nuremberg Forum 2021.
Day 2 built on the Day 1 highlights and added a few more challenges and ways forward in addressing accountability for core international crimes, and upholding the Nuremberg Principles.
Highlights from Day 2 included:
Early warning signs could be considered when discussing the preventative function of international criminal justice – experts highlighted that considering early warning signs might help to advance the prevention of the commission of core international crimes, and these signs might be easier to be addressed in practical, impactful, terms.
Root causes of the conflict need to be addressed – experts highlighted that to achieve justice, the root causes of the conflict need to be addressed. These are complex matters, as it was reaffirmed, but it has been emphasised and believed that without addressing these root causes of the conflict, reoccurrence of the conflict or violations is very likely. Moreover, the question has remained open, and as posed by the experts, whether addressing root causes could be done effectively without criminal responsibility.
The ICC’s deterrent effect and accountability mechanisms were discussed – experts discussed the actual deterrent effect of the criminal accountability mechanisms and its realistic or measurable impact. From the Colombian case example, however, it was highlighted that without the express possibility of ICC intervention, accountability efforts might not have moved the directions they had, and moreover, it is likely that this deterrent effect also impacts, to some extent, the current conflict situation (and prevention of further violence).
Structural impunity might need further exploration and possibly addressing – experts have raised structural impunity as persisting in some countries and in some case specific situations. Addressing impunity-related challenges should be part of the dialogue when addressing root causes, or seeking accountability.
Strengthening synergies in ICL is needed – highlighting the current situation worldwide, and ongoing violence, experts reemphasised the need to strengthen the international criminal justice system, and one way of addressing this challenge is by strengthening synergies in ICL.
Strengthening synergies in ICL and at the national level is equally important – it was stated and reaffirmed that domestic prosecution of breaches of international law, and human rights violations, is not only important but embodied in states’ own responsibility towards its citizens. Finding effective ways to undertake these prosecutions is important, to strengthen synergies between the domestic and international levels.
Collaborative work among varied actors remains important in addressing the objectives of the common fight against impunity – the ICC is the court of last resort, and it operates based on the complementarity principle. Collaboration among varied actors in the criminal justice field is essential in order to achieve the complementarity principle.
Collaboration efforts should be inclusive – in order to achieve effective collaboration, achieving the objectives of the common fight against impunity, the collaboration efforts should be inclusive. Transparency in terms of objectives and goals is of importance here. Experts also highlighted that a forthright dialogue with the affected communities might be needed, especially in wider transitional justice efforts.
Actors in criminal justice might need to look for creative and problem-solving solutions – it was stressed among the experts that more creative partnerships might be required. On the supply side, but also on the capacity building side. Experts stressed the role of regional actors as raising to address the justice-related challenges. To some extent, experts noted that thinking outside the box has helped, and to the extent currently possible, in situations such as Myanmar and Syria.
The moral and legal obligation to fight impunity was reemphasised – in terms of moral obligation, the Nuremberg legacy, the Nuremberg trials and the Nuremberg Principles have been recalled, including the Nuremberg Prosecutor Ben Ferencz’ motto of “Law. Not war.” Experts also highlighted the legal obligations, including the duty to prevent atrocities, and prosecute or punish, and raised the relevance of the responsibility to protect principle.
Some of the ways forward and suggestions included:
- Adapting legislation and laws that address lacunas in the legal framework;
- Strengthening domestic prosecution through capacity building;
- Supporting more meaningful outreach in the given area;
- Enlisting more regional actors and expanding on the accountability options;
- Engaging in more dialogue and creative solutions;
- Considering various accountability models to enhance rebuilding trust in ICL or wider international criminal justice; and
- Ensuring power-balance among varied actors, also focusing on victims.
An overall conclusion from Day 2 has been that the fight against impunity is progressing and trying to address challenges in implementing the Nuremberg Principles. It seemed to be also a consensus that the field is not giving up on this fight and aims to end impunity.
For a more detailed overview and conclusions, please note that the Nuremberg Academy will publish its conference report in due time. Please note that the recording will be made available on our YouTube channel if you would like to revisit the panels and discussion.
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