State Socialism and the Evolution of Post-War International Criminal and Humanitarian Law

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.

Scenes of Cold War Diplomacy: Romania and the International Theatre Institute, 1959-1964

by Viviana Iacob

at New Europe College, Bucharest,  9 November, 2016.

The presentation focused on mapping the history of the International Theatre Institute and its impact on Romanian cultural diplomacy during the Cold War. The narrative revolved around two main events while also fleshing out their prehistory as it was relevant to Romania’s involvement with I.T.I. between 1959 and 1964.

The first was the participation at the 8th I.T.I. Congress in Helsinki in 1959. Romania’s I.T.I. membership was presented on the background of previous interactions between theatre practitioners and policy makers with I.T.I. – e.g., the participation at the Third Festival of Dramatic Art in Paris in 1956, the forerunner of the Theatre of Nations Festival.

The second was the 1964 Bucharest symposium on the professional training of the actor, the first I.T.I. event organized in Romania.  The members of 24 I.T.I. centres around the world discussed approaches on improvisation exemplified by Romanian, American and Italian students. The symposium proved the willingness of theatre practitioners to achieve a common ground for consolidating the transfer of knowledge through the Iron Curtain.


Socialist Legal Experts and the Non-Applicability of Statutory Limitations to International Crimes

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.