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Welcome,

to the website of the 2014 conference on “The Defence in International Criminal Courts”.

From December 3 to 5, 2014 the International Research and Documentation Centre War Crimes Trials (ICWC) cordially invites you to throw a glance at the past and future of international criminal defence.

Nowadays, defence lawyers are frequently confronted with a variety of difficulties when acting in front of international, respectively internationalised, courts, such as dealing with an unknown jurisdiction or procedural law as well as with completely new criminal offences. Even the roles of the parties to the proceedings are often not clearly defined in advance; they rather evolve in the course of the proceedings. In this regard, defence lawyers often have to face new and challenging tasks like focusing on own, proper investigation.

Many of these aforementioned issues have – of course – been current in former international criminal proceedings, e.g. the Nuremberg Trials, followed by the so called subsequent Nuremberg Trials and other national trials. And although the contemporary proceedings since 1990 have constantly been relating to its precursors of the post-World-War-II – period, the role of the defence in particular has only been subject to little research.

Within these three days in Marburg, the conference will bring together academics and practitioners from various professions in order to spotlight different issues related to the defence in international criminal proceedings from both a historic and judicial point of view. It will be questioned who these defence lawyers have been, how they have dealt with the problems named above and especially what kind of strategies they have pursued. In this context, the defence lawyer’s personal and maybe political intentions are focal points of discussion as well as revealing possible networks among counsels.

Furthermore, criminal proceedings never only take place in courtrooms. Public prosecutors and defence lawyers not only argue over guilt and innocence; in fact, it is more often a question of unearthing the truth. In this respect, defenders may have a unique chance to exert influence on the court’s notions and narratives. Exactly that is what we will openly examine and discuss during the conference and subsequently ask, whether – in retrospective – defenders have already tried to influence the court in that way.

“The Defence in International Criminal Courts” tries to find answers to these and further, highly topical questions and challenges defenders in international proceedings have to face. We rather intend to focus on this widespread but at the same time nearly untouched research area as we wish to initiate and even the path for a future research agenda. On that account, we did not only invite members of legal professions, but also historians and social scientists. For answering those pestering questions of international criminal law an interdisciplinary approach is more needed than ever. That is what the two past conferences hosted by the International Research and Documentation Centre War Crimes Trials (ICWC), “The Genocide Convention. 60 Years after its Adoption” (2008) and “Victims of International Crimes” (2011), have made obvious.

We look forward to having the opportunity to explore these issues with you and to welcoming you here in the historic city of Marburg this December!