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2015 Annual Celebration | 8th Marburg Lecture on International Criminal Law by Professor Bertram Schmitt

The Marburg Lecture on International Criminal Law has become an integral part of the academic calendar not only of the International Research and Documentation Centre for War Crimes Trials (ICWC) and the Departments of Law, Social Sciences and Philosophy as well as History and Cultural Studies, supporting the ICWC, but also for the whole university. Well-known lecturers such as Judge at the Federal Constitutional Court Udo di Fabio, UN Special Rapporteur on freedom of religion or belief Heiner Bielefeldt and well as Director of the Munich Institute of Contemporary History Andreas Wirsching have made the Marburg Lecture on International Criminal Law an important event which receives attention from scientists and practitioners of international criminal law and transitional justice well beyond Marburg.

8th Marburg Lecture on International Criminal Law: Professor Schmitt. The evening’s highlight was the Lecture on International Criminal Law by Professor Schmitt, judge at the International Criminal Court in The Hague.
Photo: Simon Sträter

This year’s guest speaker was no one other than Professor Dr. Bertram Schmitt, German judge at the International Criminal Court (ICC) in The Hague. Professor Schmitt holds the chair of Criminal Law, Criminal Procedural Law and Criminology at Würzburg University. He used to be judge at the Federal Supreme Court, he now is judge at the European Court for Human Rights and was elected as judge at the ICC in late 2014. Unlike many others, Professor Schmitt combines legal sciences and legal practice within the domain of international criminal law. The subject of his presentation was the procedural law at the ICC: “A Successful Compromise between Common Law and Civil Law? The Procedural Law at the International Criminal Court”. Procedures before the ICC do not simply copy existing national procedural law but they try to combine elements of the Anglo-Saxon common law (adversarial) and the continental European civil law (inquisitorial). Hence, the criminal procedural law of the ICC can be considered a fascinating and unprecedented experiment. This finding only gradually gains attention within the academic sphere. Against this background, the lecture focused on the question whether the The Hague compromise between common law and civil law rather unites the positive or the negative aspects of both traditions or if it has struck a feasible balance. 

Traditionally, the annual celebrations of the ICWC take place in the venerable Old Auditorium of Philipps University.
Photo: Simon Sträter

The lecture was introduced by the keynote of Dean of the Department of History and Cultural Studies Professor Dr. Benedikt Stuchtey and the report on the activities of the Centre by ICWC Executive Director Professor Dr. Eckart Conze. In his report, Professor Conze presented and illustrated the manifold activities of the Centre and its staff in the areas of teaching, research and documentation whereby he highlighted the PhD projects which are pursued under the umbrella of the Centre. At the end, Professor Conze thanked former Director of the Centre Professor Dr. Christoph Safferling whose name has been inextricably linked with the Centre’s development of the past couple of years and who had left his post in the past year. Nevertheless, Professor Conze announced that Professor Safferling will remain an integral part of the ICWC as president of the ICWC’s booster club.

Award of the certificates. ICWC Director Professor Conze and project manager PD Dr. Eckstein conferring the monitoring certificates upon the programme’s graduates.
Photo: Leonard Wolckenhaar

One of the hugest projects at the ICWC initiated by Professor Safferling is the Trial-Monitoring Programme, which is unique in the German academic landscape. The professional management of the programme had temporarily been taken over by PD Dr. Ken Eckstein. As in previous years, the freshly graduated Marburg trial observers were awarded their certificates.The high number of participants in the auditorium as well as the lively discussions at the subsequent standing reception mirrored that in 2015 the Marburg Lecture on International Criminal Law received great interest from students, teachers but also external guests.