Whitney R. Harris World Law Institute

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The Whitney R. Harris World Law Institute at Washington University School of Law serves as a center for instruction and research in international and comparative law. Through a combination of education and research, the Institute seeks to contribute to the betterment of the global society by expanding the knowledge and understanding of key issues, promoting the rule of law, and addressing the kinds of problems that require international cooperation and collaboration.

The Harris Institute was established in November 2000 as the “Institute for Global Legal Studies”[1] and was later renamed as the “Whitney R. Harris Institute for Global Legal Studies”[2] in honor and recognition of Whitney R. Harris' lifelong achievements in the field of international justice. Whitney R. Harris served as a trial counsel prosecuting the major German war criminals before the International Military Tribunal at Nuremberg in 1945 and he kept the Nuremberg dream alive through his writings and his advocacy, and later through his philanthropic generosity and support of legal education and research. In 2008, he and Anna Harris endowed the Institute’s “World Peace Through Law Award” at a ceremony during which the Harris Institute’s name was changed to the “Whitney R. Harris World Law Institute,” the name it bears today.

With a focus on developing innovative global solutions to real-life problems, the Harris Institute has sponsored more than 80 speakers and held or co-sponsored more than 20 major international conferences since it opened. It also houses an “Ambassador-in-Residence” program and hosts debates and scholarship roundtables on pressing issues in international law and policy. By drawing on a vast pool of international and national expertise, the Harris Institute fosters collaboration, continuous dialogue and exchange among scholars and practitioners engaged in international or comparative work.

The Crimes Against Humanity Initiative

Introduction to the Crimes Against Humanity Initiative

In 2008, the Whitney R. Harris World Law Institute launched the Crimes Against Humanity Initiative[3] to study the need for a comprehensive international convention on the prevention and punishment of crimes against humanity, analyze the necessary elements of such a convention, and draft a proposed treaty. The Nuremberg Charter delineated three categories of crimes: genocide, war crimes, and crimes against humanity. Yet, while the Genocide Convention provides a legal framework for prosecuting perpetrators of genocide, and the Geneva Conventions address war crimes, there is not yet a comprehensive convention on crimes against humanity.[4] As a result, perpetrators continue to escape after committing systematic and widespread human rights violations. The statutes of the International Criminal Court, the International Criminal Tribunals for the former Yugoslavia and for Rwanda each contain different definitions of crimes against humanity,[5] further demonstrating the need for a comprehensive convention, which would both punish perpetrators and prevent such atrocities from occurring in the future.

Objectives of the CAH Initiative

The Crimes Against Humanity Initiative had three primary objectives: (1) to study the law and sociological reality as regards the commission of crimes against humanity; (2) to combat the indifference and the negative legal consequences emergent from the idea that crimes against humanity are less serious than genocide; and (3) to address the gap in the law by elaborating the first-ever comprehensive specialized convention on crimes against humanity.

The CAH Initiative is carried out in four phases, three of which have been completed. The first phase was to prepare the project in various aspects, including methodological development. The second phase was to conduct a private study through the writing of papers and expert collaboration. This phase resulted in the production of papers which contribute to the body of literature on crimes against humanity. Fifteen of these papers, written by leading experts, were presented and discussed at a conference held at Washington University School of Law on April 13–14, 2009. In March, 2010, a capstone conference at the Brookings Institution in Washington further highlighted the importance of this Initiative in a Declaration on the Need for a Comprehensive Convention on Crimes Against Humanity.[6]

The third phase of the Initiative resulted in the elaboration and publication of a Proposed International Convention on the Prevention and Punishment of Crimes Against Humanity in English and French. Nearly 250 experts were consulted and the Proposed Convention underwent seven major revisions. The Proposed Convention builds upon the International Criminal Court statute by retaining the Rome Statute definition of crimes against humanity. It adds additional provisions, drawing on diverse sources of international criminal law. The Proposed Convention is intended to function as a platform for discussion by States with a view toward the eventual adoption of a United Nations Convention on the Prevention and Punishment of Crimes Against Humanity.

In March 2011, Cambridge University Press published Forging a Convention for Crimes Against Humanity, an edited volume on the work of the Initiative, which contains the text of the Proposed Convention in French and English, a comprehensive history of its drafting, and fifteen expert commentaries from the Expert’s Meeting in April 2009. The book received considerable praise and attention, and was awarded the Book of the Year Award by the Association Internationale de Droit Pénal (American Branch).[7] A second edition, with the text of the convention in Spanish and Arabic, is forthcoming.

The Proposed Convention and Forging a Convention for Crimes Against Humanity

The Proposed Convention contains 27 articles and 6 annexes. Its text attempts to bring prevention into the instrument in a much more explicit way than predecessor instruments, by including the possibility of responsibility for the criminal acts of legal persons, by excluding defenses of immunities and statutory limitations, by prohibiting reservations, and by establishing a unique institutional mechanism for supervision of the Convention. Echoing its 1907 forbearer, it also contains its own "Martens Clause" in the Preamble.

The Proposed Convention builds upon and complements the ICC Statute by retaining the Rome Statute definition of crimes against humanity, but has added robust interstate cooperation, extradition, and mutual legal assistance provisions in Annexes 2-6. Universal jurisdiction was retained (but is not mandatory), and the Rome Statute served as a model for several additional provisions, including Articles 4-7 (Responsibility, Official Capacity, Non-Application of Statute of Limitations) and with respect to final clauses. Other provisions draw on international criminal law and human rights instruments more broadly, including the Enforced Disappearance Convention, the Terrorist Bombing Convention, the Convention Against Torture, the UN Conventions on Corruption and Organized Crime, the European Transfer of Proceedings Convention, and the Inter-American Criminal Sentences Convention. The Proposed Convention provides for State as well as individual responsibility, and would vest jurisdiction in the International Court of Justice to resolve differences as to interpretation and application of the Proposed Convention.

Current Work of the CAH Initiative

As part of its fourth and final phase, the Crimes Against Humanity Initiative aims to raise global awareness of the need for an international convention on crimes against humanity, and to encourage the international community to adopt the Proposed Convention. The CAH Initiative has completed translations of the Proposed Convention in French and Spanish, and undertaken Chinese and German translations in order to widen the reach of the Initiative and the Proposed Convention.

The Crimes Against Humanity Steering Committee has also reached out to national and international policy makers to begin a dialog about the strengths and benefits of the Proposed Convention and the responsibility of the international community to prevent and punish crimes against humanity.

Leadership

The Crimes Against Humanity Initiative is directed by a global Steering Committee of experts and scholars in the field of international criminal law including Professor Leila Nadya Sadat (chairwoman), Professor M. Cherif Bassouni, Ambassador Hans Corell, Justice Richard Goldstone, Professor Juan E. Méndez, Professor William Schabas and Judge Christine Van Den Wyngaert.

The Crimes Against Humanity Initiative also benefits from the expertise of an Advisory Council composed of high-ranking international law and human rights practitioners and scholars from around the world. The Steering Committee assembled the CAH Advisory Council to assist the Initiative in developing strategies for a crimes against humanity treaty and to promote the Proposed Convention.

World Peace Through Law Award

The World Peace Through Law Award is bestowed upon an individual who, by his or her work and writings, has considerably advanced the rule of law and thereby contributed to world peace. Established in 2006, the Award recognizes individuals who have achieved great distinction in the field of international law and international relations. To date, this award has been bestowed upon four distinguished individuals:

  • 2011 – Chief Prosecutor of the International Criminal Court Fatou Bensouda[8]
  • 2010 - Professor M. Cherif Bassiouni[9]
  • 2008 - The Honorable Richard Goldstone
  • 2006 - The Honorable Phillipe Kirsch

Other Programs

ICC Legal Tools Project

In September 2009, the Harris Institute concluded a Co-Operation Agreement with the International Criminal Court which began the ICC Legal Tools Project.[10] Under the Co-Operation Agreement, the Institute is responsible for collecting and uploading documents for the "National Jurisdictions" and "National Cases Involving Core International Crimes" folders in the ICC Legal Tools database. The Harris Institute has been researching, collecting, and analyzing relevant domestic legislation and case law concerning genocide, crimes against humanity, and war crimes for the following States: Albania, Azerbaijan, Botswana, Burkina Faso, Cameroon, Central African Republic, Comoros, Georgia, Ghana, Kiribati, Kyrgyzstan, Lesotho, Liberia, Malawi, Mauritius, Namibia, Niger, Palau, Papua New Guinea, Samoa, Swaziland, Tajikistan, Tonga, Tuvalu, Tanzania, Uzbekistan and Zambia.[11]

International Humanitarian Law (IHL) Program

The Harris Institute International Humanitarian Law (IHL) program provides a unique opportunity to Washington University law students interested in international law field advocacy. In spring 2012, the IHL program entered a new phase and partnership with the Enough! Project. The Washington, D.C. based NGO works with concerned citizens, advocates, and policy makers to prevent, mitigate, and resolve crises of genocide and crimes against humanity. Law students have a unique opportunity to aid in Enough’s Raise Hope for Congo campaign through the Conflict-Free Campus Initiative (CFCI).[12] This Initiative aims to alleviate atrocities committed over conflict minerals in Congo by pressuring electronics companies to use conflict-free minerals in their products.

Ambassadors Program

Founded in 2007, the Harris Institute Ambassadors Program brings foreign service professionals to the law school to share their experiences and knowledge with the law school and university community. The Ambassadors Program draws current and retired professionals from the international diplomatic corps to provide students with a first-hand description of international law and policy in action.

Former Ambassadors-in-Residence include: Ambassador Stephen J. Rapp (2009), Ambassador-at-Large for War Crimes Issues; Ambassador Charles Stith (2009), former United States Ambassador to Tanzania; Ambassador Feisal Amin Rasoul al-Istrabadi (2009), the Ambassador Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary, Deputy Permanent Representative of Iraq to the United Nations; Carla A. Hills (2008), former United States Trade Representative; and Thomas A. Schweich (2008),[13] former State Department coordinator for counternarcotics and Justice Reform in Afghanistan.

Dagen-Legomsky Student Fellowship Program

In 2001, Margaret Dagen–an early pioneer of the civil rights movement in St. Louis–endowed the Dagen-Legomsky Student Fellowship Program for Washington University law students to work in the field of international human rights and to study at the prestigious Hague Academy of International Law during the summer recess. With the financial support of this program, Dagen-Legomsky International Public Interest fellows partake in summer externships at the U.S. Department of Justice, the International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda, the Extraordinary Chambers in the Courts of Cambodia, the European Council on Refugees and Exiles, the Mekong Region Law Center (Bangkok), and many more.[14]

References

  1. http://digitalcommons.law.wustl.edu/cgi/viewcontent.cgi?article=1546&context=wujlp
  2. http://www.fredonia.edu/org/jacksonsymposium/harris.asp
  3. http://crimesagainsthumanity.wustl.edu/
  4. Richard Goldstone; Leila Nadya Sadat (2011). "Foreword". Forging a Convention for Crimes Against Humanity. Cambridge University Press. p. xvi. 
  5. Sadat, Leila (2011). "Preface and Acknowledgements". Forging a Convention for Crimes Against Humanity. Cambridge University Press. p. xxii. 
  6. "Declaration on the Need for a Comprehensive Convention on Crimes Against Humanity". http://law.wustl.edu/harris/CAH/docs/Declaration9292010.pdf. Retrieved 7 August 2012. 
  7. "Two Professor Win Book Awards". WIA Report. http://www.wiareport.com/2011/12/two-professors-win-book-awards/. Retrieved 31 August 2012. 
  8. "Fatou Bensouda receives 2011 World Peace Through Law Award". The Point. http://thepoint.gm/africa/gambia/article/fatou-bensouda-receives-2011-world-peace-through-law-award. Retrieved 7 August 2012. 
  9. "M. Cherif Bassouni". DePaul University College of Law. http://www.law.depaul.edu/faculty_staff/faculty_emeritus.asp?id=22. Retrieved 31 August 2012. 
  10. "From 2008 to 2010, TRIAL contributed to the ICC Legal Tools Project". TRIAL. http://www.trial-ch.org/en/activities/research/from-2008-to-2010-trial-contributed-to-the-icc-legal-tools-project.html. Retrieved 31 August 2012. 
  11. "Responsibilities of Each External Partner". ICC Legal Tools Project. http://www.legal-tools.org/en/work-on-the-tools/table-of-responsibilities/. 
  12. "Raise Hope for Congo Participating Schools". Enough Campaign. http://www.raisehopeforcongo.org/content/participating-schools. 
  13. "Tom Schweich". Wikipedia. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Tom_Schweich#cite_note-stltoday.com1-1. 
  14. "Directory of Law School Public Interest and Pro Bono Programs: Washington University". American Bar Association Standing Committee on Pro Bono and Public Service and the Center for Pro Bono. http://apps.americanbar.org/legalservices/probono/lawschools/125.html. Retrieved 31 August 2012.