by Raluca Grosescu
at Imre Kertész Kolleg, Jena, 9 October 2017
The paper presented the contribution of Eastern European socialist governments and legal experts to the development of international criminal law (ICL) and international humanitarian law (IHL) during the Cold War. It discussed the socialist engagements with several ICL and IHL aspects: the definition of the ‘crime of aggression’ and of the linked charges of ‘crimes against peace’ and ‘common plan or conspiracy’ used against the Axis leaders at the post-war tribunals at Nuremberg and Tokyo; the efforts to expand the Geneva Conventions to non-international conflicts, and the criminalization of apartheid under international law. Finally, the paper discussed the role of state socialist experts in encoding the non-applicability of statutory limitations to international crimes. The paper argued that the socialist engagements with these fields were a combination of both progressive ideas (anti-fascism, anti-colonialism, and anti-Apartheid), and Realpolitik (the geopolitical competition with the West, expanding socialism in the Third World, and the primacy of defending state sovereignty non-interventionism in national affairs). It was a mixture that simultaneously generated new forms of international law, and hindered its advance and enforcement during the Cold War.
by Raluca Grosescu
at the workshop Socialist Experts, Humanitarianism, and the Latin American Cold War Conflicts, Andhes University, Bogota, 1-3 August, 2017.
This paper examines the contribution of Eastern European socialist governments and legal experts to the development of international criminal law (ICL) and international humanitarian law (IHL) during the Cold War. It challenges the dominant scholarship that portray the Socialist Bloc as merely a roadblock to progress of international justice and humanitarianism and posits an alternative narrative: the socialist world in fact played a vital role for the emergence and consolidation of new ICL and IHL norms after 1945 and its participation was an essential element in the advancement of these fields of law. The paper discusses the socialist engagements with the definition of the ‘crime of aggression’, the linked charges of ‘crimes against peace’ and ‘common plan or conspiracy’ used against the Axis leaders at the post-war tribunals at Nuremberg and Tokyo, the expansion of the Geneva Conventions to non-international conflicts, the non-applicability of statutory limitations to international crimes and the criminalization of apartheid under international law.
Original announcement is here.
Place and time: Leibniz-Institut für Geschichte und Kultur des östlichen Europa (GWZO), Leipzig, 28.09.2017 – 29.09.2017
International law is enjoying increasing popularity among historians of global and international affairs, due to a re-reading of legal norms and rules that questions a state-centered approach. Instead of seeing law as an outcome of state behavior, recent scholarship has examined the transnational character of law and legal communities, and the oftentimes complex negotiation processes that precede the codification and subsequent ratification of international conventions. This perspective aligns with the focus on border-crossing relations and on professional and nonstate actors and institutions that has become essential to global and international history. Moreover, connections forged between the history of international law and discussions of the limits of legal universalism have increased the legal dimension’s relevance for historians of empire and decolonization. Encircling notions of hegemony, imperialism, and civilization, and scrutinizing the role of international law in imperial and civilizing missions, this strand of research has given rise to regional histories of international law. Continue reading CFP: Institutions and International Law in Eastern Europe
In the history of international law, the socialist bloc has been generally relegated to the role of roadblock in fulfilling the ideals of Western liberalism. This conference seeks to question established narratives that have ignored or downplayed the role of state-socialist governments and legal experts in shaping the evolution of international criminal and humanitarian law after the end of the Second World War. With a geographic scope covering the Soviet Union, the Eastern Bloc, Africa, and China, the conference explores the socialist world’s doctrines and international engagements concerning the codification of different international crimes [including crimes against peace, the crimes of aggression, Apartheid, terrorism, slavery, narcotics trafficking and more], approaches to humanitarian intervention, and the relationship between state sovereignty and international law. The conference advances the idea that rather than simply block progress, socialist initiatives played a vital role in the production of norms and ideas that continue to be relevant for the current international criminal and humanitarian legal system.
See the brochure of the conference here.
by Raluca Grosescu
at New Europe College, Bucharest, 12 October, 2016.
The presentation analysed the contribution of state-socialist governments and legal experts to the development of a major principle of international criminal law, namely the non-applicability of statutory limitations to war crimes, genocide, and crimes against humanity. On the one hand, it examines the transnational mobilization of socialist legal scholars and political elites – their cooperation with Western scholars and “third world” governments – with a view to bringing on the agenda of the international community and enabling the adoption of the 1968 UN Convention on the Non-Applicability of Statutory Limitations to War Crimes and Crimes against Humanity. On the other hand, the presentation dealt with the negotiation of the 1968 UN Convention in historical context, with a special focus on its legal innovations and shortcomings, as well as its subsequent impact on the advance of prosecutions of dictatorial crimes in post-communist Eastern Europe (Estonia and Romania) or post-dictatorial Latin America (Argentina and Chile). I argued that state socialist elites played a major role in establishing the non-applicability of statutory limitations to international crimes as a principle of international law. Though intertwined with political agendas and not without flaws, these efforts contributed to the progress of both customary and conventional international criminal law.
by Raluca Grosescu
at the Universidad Nacional de Pilar, Asuncion, July 26, 2016.
State Socialism, Legal Experts and the Genesis of International Criminal and Humanitarian Law after 1945
(Humboldt University of Berlin, November 24-26, 2016)
Call for Papers
In the history of international law, the socialist bloc has been generally relegated to the role of roadblock to the fulfillment of the ideals of Western liberalism. Scholars of international criminal law (ICL) and international humanitarian law (IHL) have often dismissed the contributions of socialist legal initiatives as little more than Cold War propaganda and thus irrelevant to understanding the historical evolution of judicial norms and the modern international system. The establishment of different international tribunals since the collapse of the Soviet Union has only reinforced the notion that the socialist world was little more than an impediment to progress. Nevertheless, the American-led global war on terror has done much to call into question Western commitment to the laws of war. Continue reading International Conference “State Socialism, Legal Experts and the Genesis of International Criminal and Humanitarian Law after 1945”
by Raluca Grosescu, at Experts, Globalisation and Transformation in Late and Post-Socialism, University of Exeter – Department of History, Exeter 6-7 November 2015.
The Legacy of State Socialism in International Criminal Law: The Case of the 1968 UN Convention on the Non-Applicability of Statutory Limitations to War Crimes and Crimes against Humanity
by Raluca Grosescu, at Justice in Communist and Post-Communist Regimes, Faculty of Law – University of Bucharest & The Institute for the Investigation of Communist Crimes and the Memory of the Romanian Exile (IICCMER), Bucharest, 6-10 October 2015.
This paper analyses the role of state-socialist countries in the development of international criminal law, through the example of the 1968 UN Convention on the Non-Applicability of Statutory Limitations to War Crimes and Crimes against Humanity. It examines the context, the negotiations and the interpretations that had been given to the Convention in 1968. It then focuses on the Convention’s application and its new readings in domestic prosecutions of human rights abuses in Argentina and Estonia in the 2000s. The paper argues that international criminal law norms initiated or supported by state-socialist countries during the Cold War have been instrumental in trials dealing with crimes of authoritarian regimes during the “third-wave of democratization” in Latin America and Eastern Europe. It also reflects on the historicity of law. It discusses how legal norms constructed in a particular historical context with a specific political purpose are re-interpreted and re-negotiated in order to fulfil new political goals in the present.