Centre for Asian Legal Studies

Trials for International Crimes in Asia Conference

by Assistant Professor Kristen Sellars

The aim of this conference is to examine and draw conclusions about the role of tribunals convened in Asia to deal with major international crimes: aggression, war crimes, crimes against humanity, and genocide. The conference has a dual theme, considering both tribunals situated in Asia that have been established at the behest of non-Asian powers or international organisations, and tribunals that have been mounted at the behest of governments of Asian states. In keeping with the emphasis on legal questions, particular stress will be laid on the evolution of different modes of responsibility deployed in the respective courts, such as command responsibility, conspiracy and common plan, joint criminal enterprise, and defences against them.

This conference is both timely and significant because it is now possible to draw together scholars and practitioners for a substantial discussion about legal approaches to international crimes in Asia. Quite a number of tribunals have been convened in the region since the Asia-Pacific war, from the earliest, set up in Manila and Tokyo just after the war, to the latest, currently hearing cases in Phnom Penh and Dhaka. The issue of international crimes is highly topical in the region: witness, for example, the still-resonant claims against the Japanese for crimes committed in the 1930s and 1940s, and the schisms generated by present-day trials convened to deal with crimes committed from the 1970s onwards.

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