UCL and the ILA (British Branch)
Reducing Genocide to Law: Definition, Meaning, and the Ultimate Crime
Wednesday 20 February 2013
6 - 7.00pm at the UCL Faculty of Laws
About this talk:
Could the prevailing view that genocide is the ultimate crime be wrong? Is it possible that it is actually on an equal footing with war crimes and crimes against humanity? Is the power of the word genocide derived from something other than jurisprudence? And why should a hierarchical abstraction assume such importance in conferring meaning on suffering and injustice? Could reducing a reality that is beyond reason and words into a fixed category undermine the very progress and justice that such labelling purports to achieve? For some, these questions may border on the international law equivalent of blasphemy. Professor Akhavan’s original and daring book entitled ‘Reducing Genocide to Law’, on which his lecture will be based, is a probing reflection on empathy and our faith in global justice.
About the speaker:
Payam Akhavan LLM, SJD (Harvard) is Professor of International Law at McGill University in Montreal, Canada, and Fernand Braudel Senior Fellow at the European University Institute in Florence, Italy. He was previously Visiting Professor at Sciences Po (Paris), Yale Law School, Leiden University, and University of Toronto. Among his many publications, his article “Beyond Impunity: Can International Criminal Justice Prevent Future Atrocities?” in the American Journal of International Law (2001) has been selected by the International Library of Law and Legal Theory as one of “the most significant published journal essays in contemporary legal studies.” He is also the author of the Report on the Work of the Office of the Special Advisor of the U N Secretary-General on the Prevention of Genocide (2005), served as Chairman of the Global Conference on the Prevention of Genocide (2007), and is Co-Producer of the documentary film “Genos.Cide: The Great Challenge” (2009). His recent book “Reducing Genocide to Law: Definition, Meaning, and the Ultimate Crime” (2012) from Cambridge University Press has been described by the former Prosecutor of the International Criminal Court as “a profound re-thinking of efforts to transform global aspirations into reality.”
Professor Akhavan was the first Legal Advisor to the Prosecutor’s Office of the International Criminal Tribunals for the former Yugoslavia and Rwanda at The Hague (1994-2000) and has also served with the United Nations in Bosnia, Cambodia, East Timor, and Guatemala. He is a member of the New York Bar and the Upper Canada Law Society, and appeared as counsel and advocate in leading cases before the International Court of Justice, the International Criminal Court, the International Tribunal for the Law of the Sea, the Permanent Court of Arbitration, and the European Court of Human Rights.
Professor Akhavan was born in Iran and left in his childhood because of the persecution of the Baha'i minority to which his family belonged. He is Founder and Director of the Iran Human Rights Documentation Centre, the Iran Tribunal, and serves on the advisory board of numerous other human rights organizations. His contributions to the Iranian democratic movement have been featured in the New York Times, Maclean's magazine, and the award-winning film "The Green Wave". In 2005, he was selected by the World Economic Forum as a Young Global Leader.
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