Podcast: From the Trial of the Kaiser to the ICC

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Date of Publication: 19/01/2019 Description: We are going to kick off 2019 by exploring the development of international criminal law and justice, starting from the year 1919. Following the end of the First World War, the Allied nations of Britain, France and Italy agreed to try the former German Emperor Kaiser Wilhelm II before an international criminal tribunal, while the US stood largely opposed to such an unprecedented trial. During the Paris Peace Conference in 1919, International lawyers converged to debate on the development and application of international criminal justice for the first time and recommended that the Kaiser should be tried for war crimes. In order to break an impasse in negotiations between the US and the other Allied nations on the trial of the Kaiser, US President Woodrow Wilson would relent, agreeing to try the Kaiser for what he termed as a 'supreme offence against international morality'. This would become a part of the official wording Article 227 of the Treaty of Versailles, which called for the Kaiser’s trial. However, with the Kaiser successfully obtaining asylum in the Netherlands and the subsequent refusal of the Dutch to hand him over, the trial would never take place. Despite the Allied powers’ failed attempt to prosecute the Kaiser, this moment in history bears a special significance for the development of international criminal law and justice and marks the beginning of many salient legal debates present today, particularly those around the prosecution of a head of state. To help us further explore the importance of this moment to the development of international criminal law and Justice, Kirk Allen had the opportunity to speak with renowned international legal expert Prof William Schabas about his recent book, ‘The Trial of the Kaiser’. Also, following our interview with Prof Schabas, we will hear from one of the DWS’ own international legal experts, Dr Rachel Kerr, who focuses on international law, war crimes, and transitional justice. In our interview, we will discuss the development of international criminal law and justice since the Treaty of Versailles and discuss some of the successes and shortcomings of today's international legal institutions such the International Criminal Court (ICC). Bios: - Prof William A. Schabas, has been called 'the world expert on the law of genocide and international law.' He is Professor of international law at Middlesex University in London, Professor of International Law and Human Rights at Leiden University, distinguished visiting faculty at Sciences Po in Paris, and honorary chairman of the Irish Centre for Human Rights. He is the author of more than twenty books in the fields of human rights and international criminal law. He drafted the 2010 and 2015 United Nations quinquennial reports on the death penalty and was a member of the Sierra Leone Truth and Reconciliation Commission. Professor Schabas is an Officer of the Order of Canada and a member of the Royal Irish Academy since 2007. Publications: https://scholar.google.co.uk/citations?user=kiCThLQAAAAJ&hl=en 'The Trial of the Kaiser' - https://global.oup.com/academic/product/the-trial-of-the-kaiser-9780198833857?cc=gb&lang=en& - Dr Rachel Kerr is a Reader in International Relations and Contemporary War in the Department of War Studies, King’s College London. She joined the Department as a Lecturer in 2003, teaching on War Studies Online programmes, having previously worked in academic publishing for Polity Press. Dr. Kerr holds a BA in International History and Politics from the University of Leeds and an MA and PhD in War Studies from King’s College London. Dr. Kerr co-directs the War Crimes Research Group. She also co-chair the BISA International Law and Politics Working Group and the London Transitional Justice Network. Publications: https://scholar.google.co.uk/citations?user=8CXWqx0AAAAJ&hl=en

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