Crimes against humanity
A century of retributive humanitarianism: The 2015 London School of Economics-University of Melbourne Annual Lecture with Gerry Simpson
On 12 October 1915, English nurs Edith Cavell was executed by the Germans in Brussels. Partly, as a result, there emerged an almost entirely novel way of thinking about international law.
Defeated enemies became “war criminals”, atrocities became “crimes against humanity” and (a certain sort of) war became “aggression”.
The first half of the 20th Century then saw the appearance of a whole idiom and, then, architecture (Nuremberg, Tokyo) of what became known as international criminal law.
This field (sometimes referred to also as “war crimes law”) began as tentative foothold (Versailles, Leipzig) but has now thoroughly colonised our thinking about war and peace (Rome, The Hague). And when it comes to human rights abuses, it is de rigueur to call for war crimes trials for the perpetrators, and justice for the victims.
In July 2013, Professor Michael Cox (LSE) gave the inaugural LSE-Melbourne lecture in Melbourne on “Australia and the West in a New Asian Order?”.
In October 2014, Professor Ross Garnaut (University of Melbourne) gave the second LSE-Melbourne lecture in London on “Capitalism, Socialism and Democracy in the Twenty First Century”.
In the third lecture. Gerry Simpson engages in a critical stocktaking of this century of retributive humanitarianism.