Thursday, 18 April 2013, 2:00PM
Barnard's Inn Hall

War Crimes Courts that Reconcile: Oxymoron or Possibility?

Professor Sir Geoffrey Nice QC

Domestic criminal justice systems have objectives of retribution and deterrence. It is no part of such systems to bring peace and harmony to individuals whose divisions, of whatever kind, have taken shape in a crime. In contrast, international criminal justice systems typically have objectives of bringing reconciliation as well as of deterrence and retribution. Is it realistic to think that these objectives are likely to be compatible? What evidence is there of public pursuit of war criminals bringing peace to a region? If there is little – or even none – should we be troubled? Should we simply say war crimes justice systems are really in place for more limited purposes than may be claimed and other ways must be found to bring to those who will have suffered in war more peaceful futures? Or should the lawyers and judges be reviewing and changing how their trial systems operate to achieve these broader objectives?

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Sir Geoffrey Nice QC has practised as a barrister since 1971.  He worked at the International Criminal Tribunal for the Former Yugoslavia – the ICTY – between 1998 and 2006 and led the prosecution of Slobodan Milošević, former President of Serbia. Much of his work since has been connected to cases before the permanent International Criminal Court – Sudan, Kenya, Libya – or  pro bono for victims groups – Iran, Burma, North Korea – whose cases cannot get to any international court.  He works for several related NGO’s and lectures and commentates in the media in various countries on international war crimes issues.  He has been a part-time judge since 1984 sitting at the Old Bailey and has sat as judge in other jurisdictions, tribunals and inquiries.  Between 2009 and 2012 he was Vice-Chair of the Bar Standards Board, the body that regulates barristers.

The six free public law lectures for 2013/14 Sir Geoffrey delivered as Gresham Professor of Law included four lectures on how legal process can fail the citizen in armed conflict, one explaining advocacy work in courts, and a final lecture covering recent legal changes.

The first five of his 2012-13 lectures dealt with issues arising from the work of international criminal courts and tribunals.  The sixth contrasted the practice of law in international criminal courts where there is little or no effective regulation of lawyers and judges with the present working practices of the English Bar.

Professor Sir Geoffrey Nice QC continues his Law series in the 2015/16 academic year, entitled 'Law and Lawyers - not all bad?'.

Professor Nice's previous lecture series are as follows:

2015/16 Law and Lawyers - not all bad?
2014/15 From Human Rights to Srebrenica
2013/14 Law Lectures by Professor Sir Geoffrey Nice QC
2012/13 International Criminal Courts

All of Professor Nice's past Gresham lectures can be accessed here.

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