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Crimes Against Humanity

Meeting of the UNWCC in London, Facts and Evidence Committee, chaired by Marcel De Baer (Belgium, with moustache), left Sir Robert L. Craigie (Great Britain, Chairman of Finance Committee), April 1946. Courtesy of UN-ARMS (New York), Reel 171, 27426.

This symposium discusses Kerstin von Lingen’s award-winning book Crimes Against Humanity. Eine Ideengeschichte der Zivilisierung von Kriegsgewalt 1864–1945. The book looks at the intellectual history of “crimes against humanity” as a legal concept. Von Lingen integrates this history in the persistent efforts of international lawyers to combat mass violence against civilians in warfare over almost a century. She argues that the transnational debates among lawyers since the end of the 19th century have been crucial for the new developments in international law following the Second World War.

The symposium will discuss the implications of von Lingen’s work, criticize potential blind spots and explore themes for further research on this topic. It will start with a post by Philippe Sands (University College London), who examines the differences between the legal concepts of genocide and crimes against humanity. In the next posts, Daniel Marc Segesser (University of Bern) focuses on international legal discussions of the 19th century and Annette Weinke (University of Jena) analyses (dis)continuities and the perspectives of different actors in von Lingen’s story. Elena Kempf (University of California, Berkeley) reflects on the consequences of von Lingen’s narrative for the concept of the legal in the historiography of international law. Eventually, Kerstin von Lingen (University of Vienna) will respond to the comments and critique raised in the previous contributions.


Völkerrechtsblog wishes you an interesting and stimulating reading!

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