Inter-University Programme on International Criminal Law and Procedure
The last 20 years have seen the emergence and rapid development of International Criminal Law and Procedure, a unique hybrid of International Law and Criminal (Procedure) Law that deals primarily with mass atrocity, such as genocide, crimes against humanity, and war crimes, but, as of recently, also the crimes of aggression and terrorism. The first major international tribunals emerged after World War II, in Nuremberg and Tokyo, to deal with mass atrocity committed by the vanquished. Following their closure and despite the many wars and atrocities committed in the 20th century, the Cold War greatly thwarted the further development of international justice.
However, following the fall of the Berlin Wall and the end of the Cold War, the world began to change. The wars in the former Yugoslavia triggered an unprecedented, and, at first, entirely unexpected reaction – the creation by the United Nations Security Council of an international tribunal to prosecute the suspects of the crimes committed. The International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia (ICTY) was established in 1993, followed by its sister institution – the International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda (ICTR), established in 1994 – to try the alleged perpetrators of the genocide and other atrocities committed in Rwanda.
Largely due to the initial success of these two ad hoc Tribunals, the Statute of the permanent International Criminal Court (ICC) was adopted in 1998, 50 years after it was first proposed. The following decade saw the creation of a host of international and hybrid tribunals to address atrocities committed around the world which, due to the provisions of the ICC Statute, could not fall under the jurisdiction of the permanent court. One of these is the Special Tribunal for Lebanon (STL).
Undergraduate/graduate education in International Criminal Law and Procedure
Mirroring these developments in many countries around the world, universities have set up undergraduate and graduate programmes for the study of international law and, especially, international criminal law and procedure. Such programmes now exist in the United Kingdom, France, Ireland, Finland, the Netherlands, Italy, the United States, Germany and South Africa, among others. They provide students with the knowledge they need should they wish to engage in the academic field, the judiciary or private practice and they give the students an advantage if they choose to apply for jobs in international courts and tribunals. In order to offer their students all the opportunities they deserve, the universities in Lebanon have also begun to engage in this process.
For this reason, the T.M.C. Asser Instituut and the Outreach and Legacy Section of the STL have created an Inter-University Programme on International Criminal Law and Procedure. This programme is designed for Lebanese undergraduate students in their 3rd and 4th year of studies, as well as a limited number of graduate students. Students from the following Universities take part: American University of Science and Technology (AUST), Beirut Arab University (BAU), Notre Dame University (NDU), Université La Sagesse (ULS), Université Libanaise (UL), Université Saint-Esprit de Kaslik (USEK), the American University of Beirut (AUB), the Lebanese American University (LAU), the University of Balamand (UoB), the Islamic University of Lebanon (IUL) and the Academic University College for Non-violence and Human Rights (AUNOHR). The first lecture took place in November 2011.
This programme is unique in that it enables law students from eleven different universities in Lebanon to follow 17 lectures on international criminal law and procedure together. This initiative provides a unique academic experience for all involved as the individual lectures are delivered by prominent (international) academics and practitioners in the field, via internet streaming, from the T.M.C. Asser Instituut in The Hague, the Netherlands, to one of the lecture halls in the participating universities in Lebanon. Lectures are delivered in English or French and simultaneous interpretation into Arabic is provided.
The main themes of the programme are:
- History of the law of the international tribunals
- Sources of international criminal (procedural) law
- Substantive law: genocide, crimes against humanity, war crimes and terrorism
- General principles: modes of liability, rights of the accused, role of victims
- Jurisdiction, admissibility and complementarity
- International criminal proceedings: pre-trial, trial, judgment, appeal and sentencing
Since the start of the programme, more than 1000 students have graduated, and international criminal law has become an integral part of their legal vocabulary. In 2019 alone, over 450 students enrolled and attended the course.
The course has been met with great interest among students of the participating universities. One student noted:
“Dear T.M.C Asser Instituut, I want to say thanks for this big opportunity that you gave me: first to let me explore the real world of justice. Second to introducing us to respectful professors and judges in this program which is first of its kind in Lebanon and the Middle East. And finally, all the words of thanks will not be enough to express my gratitude and appreciation for your efforts to build a better future for young generations.”
Moreover, over the past nine years, this unprecedented cooperation between these 11 universities in Lebanon has resulted in a number of bilateral and multi-lateral projects to the great benefit of their students and teaching staff.
Professor Georges Masse of the American University of Science and Technology in Beirut therefore described the programme as ‘the best attempt towards reconciliation in Lebanon, because it brings together universities and students from different backgrounds’.
Please contact Dr. Christophe Paulussen, Senior Researcher at the T.M.C. Asser Instituut, Research Fellow at the International Centre for Counter-Terrorism - The Hague, and Academic Programme Coordinator IHL/ICL.