The Erik Castrén Institute of International Law and Human Rights
Faculty of Law
P.O. BOX 4 (visiting address: Yliopistonkatu 3)
Tel: +358 (0)29 4123140



ECI Brown Bag Seminar / Marieke de Hoon

ECI Brown Bag Seminar / Marieke de Hoon
Wednesday 28 November 2012, at 5:15 pm
Room P444 (Porthania Building, Address: Yliopistonkatu 3).

PhD Research on the Regulation and Criminalization of Aggressive War

“The Crime of Aggression: Consequences of Applying International Criminal Law to a Radically Indeterminate Concept”


This research project concerns the reasons for applying international law, and international criminal law in particular, to the notion of aggressive war in interstate relations, and the implications of the application of (criminal) law to such an indeterminate concept. In this research I find that it is highly problematic to apply international law to the notion of aggression due to the complex nature of differing conceptual frameworks and associated underlying assumptions when considering the legality of a particular use of force, as well as differing perspectives on reality when such assumptions are or appear to be congruent. A humanitarian intervention, for instance, can be seen as heroism by one and supremely criminal by another. Consequently, it is problematic to apply law to the question of the legitimacy of war, and particularly (international) criminal law, with its inherent vertical relation between the law enforcer and the criminal, and its presumption of the ability to distinguish between good and evil. This seminar focuses on discussing why the notion of aggression is indeterminate and what this implies for adjudicating aggression, particularly through the crime of aggression at the International Criminal Court. Three issues that will be discussed include i) the role of the adjudicator where disagreement is fundamental; ii) the likelihood that any adjudication on aggression will become a trial of rupture (following Vergès’ distinction between trial of connivance and of rupture); and iii) the limitedness of law as solution-bringing instrument in disputes on the legitimacy of war. The latter is not intended to suggest that law is not limited in other disputes, but means to focus on what makes it limited with regard to war and why this is (particularly) problematic when understood in the context of ‘international criminal justice.’

Marieke de Hoon currently holds a research and teaching position at the Vrije Universiteit (Amsterdam), where she works on her PhD on the regulation and criminalization of aggressive war and teaches public international law. In addition, she is Senior Counsel and Co-Director of the Netherlands Office of the Public International Law & Policy Group (PILPG), where she advises clients in peace negotiations and with post-conflict transitional justice and rule of law development.

The event is open for everyone, and no registration is needed. Welcome!