On October 11, 2019, the Harris Institute organized a panel on crimes against humanity during the premier international law event of the American Branch of the International Law Association – International Law Weekend in New York City. The panel, entitled Forging a Convention on Crimes Against Humanity, discussed the Draft Articles on the Prevention and Punishment of Crimes Against Humanity adopted by the International Law Commission in August 2019. The panel was moderated by Professor Leila Sadat and included the following panelists: John Bellinger (former Legal Adviser, U.S. Department of State), Juan Mendez (former Special Rapporteur on Torture), Michelle Reyes Milk (Regional Coordinator, Coalition for the International Criminal Court), Sean Murphy (Special Rapporteur for Crimes Against Humanity, International Law Commission); and Patrícia Galvão Teles (Member of the UN International Law Commission and Senior Legal Consultant on International Law at the Legal Department of the Portuguese Ministry of Foreign Affairs).
This panel discussed the need for such a treaty and highlighted the core elements of the Commission’s draft articles. Among other things, it considered whether such a treaty would assist in atrocity crime prevention, would complement the work of the International Criminal Court as well as international human rights bodies, and would promote inter-State cooperation on mutual legal assistance and extradition. Finally, the panelists discussed the prospects for adopting a new global treaty.