Crimes Against Humanity Initiative unveils international treaty draft (UPDATED 4/15/10)

Bassiouni to receive World Peace Through Law Award

Top international criminal law experts will unveil and discuss a draft of a multilateral treaty condemning and prohibiting crimes against humanity. UPDATE: View the Declaration on the Need for a Comprehensive Convention on Crimes Against Humanity (including a list of supporters).

The draft International Convention on the Prevention and Punishment of Crimes Against Humanity will be presented during a conference March 11 and 12 at the Brookings Institution in Washington, D.C. Download conference poster and agenda.

The treaty is the culmination of a two-year Crimes Against Humanity Initiative at the Whitney R. Harris World Law Institute of Washington University in St. Louis School of Law.

The Harris Institute brought together more than 200 experts to study the international law regarding crimes against humanity and to draft a multilateral treaty condemning and prohibiting such crimes.

The Crimes Against Humanity Initiative commissioned papers and convened meetings in St. Louis and The Hague involving academics, practitioners, international judges and representatives of civil society. Throughout the process, the draft convention has been continually refined.

The March conference will bring together additional experts, prominent personalities and the policy community to consider the draft convention and the need for an international instrument to prevent and punish crimes against humanity.

“We have been enormously pleased with the enthusiasm and momentum the initiative has generated, and we feel that the timing of this treaty is propitious,” says Leila Sadat, J.D., the Henry H. Oberschelp Professor of Law and director of the Harris Institute.

“On Nov. 16, 2009, in Kigali, Rwanda, the fifth colloquium of international prosecutors unanimously called upon states to consider the adoption of a convention on the suppression and punishment of crimes against humanity. We are optimistic that with the successful conclusion of the initiative, a solid foundation will have been built upon which the international community will act to make just such an instrument a reality,” she says.

During the conference, M. Cherif Bassiouni, J.D., distinguished research professor of law emeritus at DePaul University and the founder and president emeritus of the International Human Rights Law Institute, will receive the World Peace Through Law Award.

The World Peace Through Law Award is given to an individual who, by his or her work and writings, has considerably advanced the rule of law and, thereby, contributed to world peace. Established in 2006, the award recognizes those who have achieved great distinction in the field of international law and international relations.

Bassiouni has served the United Nations in a number of capacities, including: member and then chairman of the Security Council’s Commission to Investigate War Crimes in the Former Yugoslavia, and the vice-chairman of the General Assembly’s Ad Hoc Committee on the Establishment of an International Criminal Court.

In 1999, Bassiouni was nominated for the Nobel Peace Prize for his work in the field of international criminal justice and for his contribution to the creation of the International Criminal Court.

The Harris Institute also will honor the Crimes Against Humanity Initiative’s Steering Committee members as well as its supporters.

The initiative is made possible by a grant from Steven Cash Nickerson, J.D., and the U.S. Institute of Peace.