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The Impossible Capture of War by Law: The Kampala Definition of Aggression of 2010

Monday, March 6, 2017 at 6:15 pm to 8:00 pm

Room G529, 80 Fifth Avenue 80 Fifth Avenue, New York, NY 10011

Professor Martti Koskenniemi

Professor of International Law in the University of Helsinki

In 2010, the parties to the Statute of the International Criminal Court adopted a definition of aggression entitling the Court to deal with certain military operations as international “crimes." The presentation will critique the effort to deal with interstate violence by a formal definition. Any such definition is bound to be over and under-inclusive and fail in view what will always appear as the imperative need to act when significant interests are at stake. Moreover, such definition will be positively harmful in inaugurating a false impression of the presence of binding regulation: the “innocent” will find itself constrained while the “guilty” will always be able to use the definition’s indeterminate meaning to strike first. As Foreign Minister Austen Chamberlain pointed out when the question of the definition was raised in a debate in the House of Commons in 1927, such a definition is “trap for the innocent and a signpost for the guilty."

Presented by The New School for Social Research and Eugene Lang College of Liberal Arts


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