Nuremberg Forum 2019


The annual major expert conference of the International Nuremberg Principles Academy took place at the historic Courtroom 600 in the Nuremberg Palace of Justice on 18 and 19 October 2019. The 5th edition of the Nuremberg Forum addressed “The Nuremberg Principles beyond the International Criminal Court: A Common Ground for Accountability". Leading practitioners and academics in the field of international criminal law reflected on the options for reinforcing the global fight against impunity by analyzing accountability efforts for mass atrocities and the current landscape of international criminal law next to the efforts made by the International Criminal Court (ICC).

Professor Leila Nadya Sadat from Washington University School of Law highlighted in her keynote address the increasing difficulties faced by international criminal proceedings today while striving to hold Heads of States accountable for international crimes committed in their countries. Although the Rome Statute envisions the criminal responsibility also for political leaders, even some States Parties refused to surrender individuals who may have immunity under international law to the ICC without the consent of their countries. Professor Sadat underlined that abiding by Nuremberg Principle III today required government officials to put the interests of the international community and the victims of atrocity crimes above self-interest.

Former UN High Commissioner for Human Rights, Judge Navi Pillay, pointed out that the case law of the ad hoc tribunals and the ICC reflected significant progress in promoting accountability and justice for victims of serious crimes. The fight against impunity, however, continues to face many challenges, not least due to the lack of cooperation between states and the ICC or the lack of political will to tackle impunity.

In a series of six panels, the experts discussed, inter alia, common elements for criminal accountability, the endeavors of the international community, how to address impunity through hybrid mechanisms, how to achieve prosecutions at the domestic level, the effect of amnesties on historical memory, how to combat impunity through universal jurisdiction, and practical implications for the future.

A number of needs were identified from the wealth of experience of the experts, who reflected on a range of jurisdictions and justice mechanisms. This includes the need to increase the implementation of laws on international crimes in all national jurisdictions; increased complementarity between national jurisdictions and hybrid tribunals; the establishment of a permanent investigative mechanism under the mandate of the United Nations; a stronger focus on victims’ participation in judicial proceedings; ensuring national core crimes legislations meet international standards; wider proliferation of national investigative mechanisms; and more focused civil society advocacy.

For more information, pictures, and the conference program, please click here.