04 May Symposium on the UNWCC: Introduction
Dr Amina Adanan initiated a conference on the 1943-1948 United Nations War Crimes Commission (UNWCC) involving both her own, Maynooth University School of Law and Criminology, and the Centre for International Studies and Diplomacy in SOAS. The online conference included presentations from scholars in a range of disciplines, including law, history, international relations and political science and was organised by Dr Adanan and SOAS’s Prof. Dan Plesch, and funded by the Royal Irish Academy.
This blog symposium on the UNWCC is based on the conference papers from this event. The contributors continue the exploration of this still system of international support for domestic legal processes during and immediately after the Second World War. Dawn Stedman’s contribution explores the important generic issue of what types of defence were made before domestic courts and tribunals supported by the UNWCC, including those that resonate to this day such as superior orders and necessity. Megan Donaldson open up the almost unknown Ethiopian War Crimes Commission exploring the limits of African agency under great power pressures. At a time today when there is discussion of a possible new convention on international cultural crimes, Michael Fleming’s exposition of Polish pursuit of Nazi officials for cultural crimes under the Hague Conventions provides an informative example of precedent and practice in this area. Amina Adana concentrates on the issue of Universal Jurisdiction as considered and practiced by UNWCC member states before and after the IMT at Nuremberg.
My own contribution looks at the potential value of the UNWCC’s work the horrors in Ukraine have created renewed energy for the implementation of ICL. We all wish Amina well on her maternity leave and look forward to welcoming her back to the new international network on the UNWCC which she has initiated. In the interim, I and my colleagues would be delighted to hear from those who would like to join us.