“Crimes Against Humanity at the International Law Commission” The Kleh Lecture featuring Charles C. Jalloh
Boston University School of Law
765 Commonwealth Avenue
Barristers Hall, 1st Floor
Monday, November 20th, 2023
Please join us for the annual Kleh Lecture featuring Dr. Charles C. Jalloh, Distinguished University Professor of International Law Florida International University.
Crimes against humanity are always in the news. Today, in relation to the conflict in the Middle East. Last year and the year before that, regarding Myanmar, Afghanistan, Iraq, Sudan and the Congo. What is less known is that the legal framework of international law for the investigation and prosecution of that core crime under international law remains underdeveloped and there is no global treaty for the prosecution of the crime. It is for that reason that, in 2017, the International Law Commission (“ILC”), which was established by the UN General Assembly in 1947 to assist States with the promotion of the progressive development of international law and its codification, adopted on second reading in 2019 a set of draft articles on crimes against humanity. The draft articles seek to help fill the present gap in the law of international crimes since States criminalized genocide in 1948 and war crimes in 1949, but missed the opportunity to do so for crimes against humanity.
This lecture, taking as a point of departure recent events, examines the final text, as submitted to States in August 2019, using the lens of the ILC’s two-pronged mandate of codification and progressive development. In the first part of the lecture, I explain how the ILC selects new topics and the reasons why it decided to study crimes against humanity with the view to proposing a convention. In the second part, I discuss positive features of the draft crimes against humanity convention, highlighting key aspects of each of the draft articles. In the third part, I examine challenges posed by the ILC’s definition of the crime in relation to immunities, amnesties, and the lack of a proposal on a treaty monitoring mechanism. It is submitted that, if the General Assembly takes forward the ILC’s draft text to conclude a new crimes against humanity treaty, as reflected in the ongoing consideration of the topic in the Sixth Committee of the General Assembly, this will make a significant contribution to the clarity and consistency in the application of international criminal law by providing a more robust legal framework for national investigations and prosecutions of crimes against humanity.
About the Speaker
Professor Charles C. Jalloh is the William and Patricia Kleh Distinguished Visiting Professor of International Law at Boston University School of Law for 2023 to 2024. He is currently a tenured Distinguished University Professor of International Law at Florida International University (“FIU”), South Florida’ public law school, and in 2018 to 2019, held the prestigious Fulbright-Lund Distinguished Chair in Public International Law at Lund University in Sweden.
He is a member of the United Nations International Law Commission (“ILC”), to which he was re-elected by the UN General Assembly for a second five-year term (2023 to 2027) in November 2021. At the ILC, he serves as Special Rapporteur for the topic “Subsidiary means for the determination of rules of international law.” He is an active member of the ILC who contributes to its task of codification and progressive development of international law, including by holding elected leadership positions in the Bureau of the ILC as Chair of the Drafting Committee for the 70th (2018) session, General Rapporteur for the 71st (2019) session and Second-Vice Chair of the 74th (2023) session. Moreover, he is the Chair of the ILC’s standing Working Group on Methods of Work.
Jalloh has published widely on various issues in international law, including articles in some of the leading journals in the field and several books with prestigious academic presses at Cambridge and Oxford University. The Founding Editor of the African Journal of Legal Studies and the African Journal of International Criminal Justice, he sits on the editorial board of several peer-reviewed journals including the American Journal of International Law, the Canadian Yearbook of International Law and the Max Planck Yearbook of United Nations Law.
He holds various degrees from University of Guelph, McGill University, University of Oxford, where he was a Chevening Scholar, and a Ph.D. in International Law from the University of Amsterdam.
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