Harvard International Law Journal Online Forum 2017: Accountability for the Illegal Use of Force


In 1946, the world witnessed the first-ever prosecutions of a state’s leaders for planning and executing a war of aggression. The idea of holding individuals accountable for the illegal use of force—the “supreme international crime”—was considered but ultimately rejected in the wake of the First World War. A few decades later, however, following the even more destructive Second World War, the victorious powers succeeded in coming together in a court of law at Nuremberg to prosecute the leaders of Nazi Germany for waging an aggressive war against other states. Ben Ferencz, a Nuremberg prosecutor has spent the past seven decades tirelessly working to ensure that the prevention and prosecution of aggressive war-making remain on the international agenda.

Now, with Ben Ferencz’s work in mind, and writing as the international community prepares to decide whether to activate the ICC jurisdiction over the crime of aggression, the authors in this symposium take stock both of what has been accomplished and of what remains to be done. Building on discussions in 2015 at the Harris Institute, this symposium reflects on broader issues of accountability for the illegal use of force under international law, with the goal of influencing broader scholarly efforts that continue to shape the debate on the scope, nature, and future of the criminalization of the illegal use of force.


Introductory Remarks by Benjamin Ferencz



Full Symposium PDF

Launch Event:

Tuesday April 11th 12-1:30pm

12-12:15pm – Introductory remarks, Professor Gerald Neuman (HLS, Co-Director, Human Rights Program, J. Sinclair Armstrong Professor of International, Foreign, and Comparative Law )

12:15- 12:20pm – Video message Benjamin Ferencz (Chief Prosecutor, Eizansgruppen Case, Nuremberg, HLS’43)

12:20- 12:30pm – Professor Martha Minow (Morgan and Helen Chu Dean and Professor of Law)

12:30-1:30pm – Panel discussion, with Professor Alex Whiting (HLS Professor of Practice) and Professor William Schabas (Professor Middlesex University, Leiden University), moderated by Federica D’Alessandra (Visiting Researcher, HLS)

Concluding observations, Professor Donald Ferencz (Convener, Global Institute for the Prevention of the Crime of Aggression,  Visiting Professor, Middlesex University)