Accueil > Victims' Rights, International Criminal Law & proceedings

KINT 4620 - Victims' Rights, International Criminal Law & proceedings

Type d'enseignement : Seminar

Semester : Spring 2018-2019

Number of hours : 24

Language of tuition : English


No specific pre-requisite; legal or political background an asset. What is needed is a genuine interest in the fight against impunity, international justice and reconciliation issues, domestic and international proceedings relating to the investigation and prosecution of international crimes.

Course Description

Victims' Rights Law in the International Justice system are a relatively new but fascinating field. In the last twenty years domestic and international proceedings have progressively allowed victims of international crimes (ie. war crimes, crimes against humanity and genocide) to participate, be legally represented and seek reparations. Through the study of victims' rights, students will be able to comprehend the complex nature of international justice mechanisms, from domestic extraterritorial or universal jurisdiction, to ad hoc and hybrid tribunals and the International Criminal Court. The participation of victims in civil and criminal proceedings has raised numerous legal, political and trial management challenges that we will discuss, in an interactive manner throughout the course. Those challenges include mastering the fundamental differences between civil law (droit romano-germanique) and common law and how these legal systems have shaped the international justice mechanisms. Looking at the different rights that victims may claim and the challenges that it raises, this class will enable students to understand how prosecutorial discretion and politics are intertwined with the fight against impunity led by victims, victims associations and civil society around the world. Given the scale and nature of the crimes involved, the course will also offer an in depth and insider views of how tribunals organize themselves (or fail to organize) the participation of numerous victims, their legal representation and their request for reparations. How can thousands or millions of victims claim their right to truth, justice and reparation? What are the legal representation schemes that exist? What kind of protection can they request when testifying or participating in such cases may put their physical integrity in danger? Can reparation be meaningful when the crimes committed are so atrocious that no traditional financial compensation may ever repair their physical, psychological and material prejudice? The course will offer a world tour of the existing mechanisms that allow the participation of victims from Africa, South America, Asia or the Middle east and will also look at the geopolitics of the idea of a truly “universal” justice. We will look at the Nuremberg precedent, the two ad hoc tribunals for the former Yugoslavia and Rwanda, the Special Court for Sierra Leone, the International Criminal Court, the Extraordinary Chambers in the Courts of Cambodia, the Special Court for Lebanon as well as less documented initiatives like the Extraordinary Chambers in the courts of Senegal investigating into the former Chadian head of State Hissene Habré. We will also look at the principle of complementarity and the duty of all states to prosecute or extradite on the basis of their extra territorial jurisdiction. On this basis we will look into the Pinochet case in Europe and its aftermath in Chile, as well as ongoing extra territorial cases before French courts both against individuals and corporate accountability of multinationals in gross human rights violations. The course will seek to open a debate about fair trial rights, issues of justice v. peace and reconciliation and what justice means for victims of international crimes. At the end of the 25-hour session, we will discuss fundamental questions such as "Who is international criminal justice imagined as being rendered for? Who are the beneficiaries or at least recipients of its work? And, relatedly, who is the “we” in international criminal justice? What is the legitimacy of international criminal tribunals?”


SULZER, Jeanne (Avocat au barreau de Paris)

Pedagogical format

Lecture, class interaction and discussions including presentation from outside speakers.

Course validation

1. International Law of Victims Journal written contribution (written), 50%. 2. Oral presentation, 40%. 3. Class attendance and participation (this includes a 5/10 minutes' discussion at the beginning of each class about latest news and developments regarding international justice), 10%.

Required reading

  • Chambers Practice Manual ICC,
  • Victims of International Crimes: An Interdisciplinary Discourse, Thorsten Bonacker, Springer
  • Victims participation in Criminal Law Proceedings: survey of domestic practice for Application to International Crimes Prosecutions, Redress, September 2015 /
  • Hybrid and Internationalised Criminal Tribunals: Selected Jurisdictional Issues, Sarah Williams
  • UN Basic Principles and Guidelines on the Right to a Remedy and Reparation for Victims of Gross Violations of International Human Rights Law and Serious Violations of International Humanitarian Law, 2005, UNGA Res. A/RES/60/147

Additional required reading

  • Updated Set of Principles for the Protection and Promotion of Human Rights through Action to Combat Impunity, 2005, UN Doc E/CN.4/2005/102/Add.1
  • Report on the activities of the International Criminal Court and ICC prosecutorial strategy paper
  • International Criminal Tribunals: a visual overview, Daniel Mcaughlin, Leitner Center for International Law and Justice, Fordham University
  • Directive 2012/29/EU of the European Parliament and of the Council of 25 October 2012 establishing minimum standards on the rights, support and protection of victims of crimes
  • UN Declaration of Basic Principles of Justice for Victims of Crime and Abuse of Power, A/RES/40/34, 1985
  • Representing victims before the International Criminal Court, A manual for legal representatives, Office of Public Counsel for Victims
  • Is the ICC Making the Most of Victim Participation?, Mariana Pena and Gaelle Carayon, IJTJ (2013)
  • International Criminal Court: Report of the Court on the Revised strategy in relation to victims: Past, present and future