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The future of International Criminal Law

Last month, judges and law professors met at the Indian Law Institute in New Delhi to discuss the roots, limits and the future potential of International Criminal Law. The conference was part of a research project by CILRAP (Centre for International Law Research and Policy).

“The CILRAP project is about the most basic protection against genocide, aggressive war, and crimes during war and against humanity. This protection should not be relativized at a time of great changes in international relations. The project contributes to consolidating the core values on which international criminal law has been constructed”, says Professor Morten Bergsmo, Director of CILRAP which coordinates the project. It also looks to the future by analysing which fundamental values should be incorporated, such as environment, protection against terrorism, and the need for reconciliation.

CILRAP has had a number of activities in India during the past few years, including academic conferences, essay and scholarship competitions, and book launches. More than 20,000 Indian lawyers and students are on the contact list for new CILRAP activities and publications (free access to CILRAP publications at TOAEP). The centre works closely with India's leading law faculties and research institutes and has have been invited to hold expert conferences on international law in Delhi. CILRAP seek to use this favourable position to help invest in younger Indian international lawyers, so that they can participate in the further development of the international legal order with their own perspectives and initiatives. Without active and responsible ownership by Indian and Chinese actors, it will be difficult to strengthen international law in accordance with the concrete challenges of our time.

The conference was supported by the Norwegian Ministry of Foreign Affairs. Professor Bergsmo observes: "For several decades, it has been an objective of Norwegian foreign policy to strengthen the international legal order. That gives predictability and security for countries. With strong competence in the area of ICL, Norway contributes in different ways to consolidating consensus around the core principles of international law, and should also be in the first line when the ground is being prepared for discussion on further development of international criminal law. It is important that Norway supports active Indian and Chinese participation in this process".

Also present from Norwegian side and contributing at the conference were Judge Hanne Sophie Greve (Vice President of the Gulating Court of Appeal, Norway) and Gunnar Martin Ekeløve-Slydal (Deputy Secretary General, Norwegian Helsinki Committee). Deputy Head of Mission of the Norwegian Embassy in New Delhi, Hanne Meldgaard, took part in the opening session.