Contested Visions of Justice: Allied War Crimes Trials in a Global Context, 1943-1958

Dates: September 25-27, 2015

Jointly convened by Dr. Franziska Seraphim (Boston College), Dr. Kerstin von Lingen (Heidelberg), Dr. Wolfgang Form (ICWC Marburg) and Dr. Barak Kushner (Cambridge), this conference brought together historians, experts in international law and war crimes trials, as well as junior researchers at Boston College – Ireland.

Over the course of three days in Dublin, participants from Australia, Germany, Japan, Singapore, the United States and the United Kingdom discussed the history and legacy of international war crimes trials, the conflicting and converging visions of justice in the post-World War II world, and other topics. Divided into four panels, presenters and discussants explored the interconnections between various disciplines and approaches that analyse the post-war processes of administering justice within the global context.

Discussions and debates centred on the connections between post-WWII international military tribunals at Nuremberg (IMT) and Tokyo (IMTFE), the international legal mechanisms that these trials gave rise to and the precedents they set, and their lasting impact on the evolution of the global order after the war. The conference table at Boston College – Ireland became a meeting place for not only the contested visions of postwar justice, but also the disciplines of international law and history, and comparative approaches to national perceptions of war crimes and their adjudication.

As co-convenor of the conference, Dr. Barak Kushner made a presentation on the Chinese-Chinese competition in adjudicating the Japanese war crimes, and chaired a panel of papers that compared the competing notions of criminality across national borders. In his presentation, Dr. Kushner traced the evolution of Chinese legal system over the course of the twentieth century, competing visions of international justice between the Chinese Nationalists (KMT) and Communists (CCP), as well as the processes through which these two rivals used the adjudication of Japanese war crimes in establishing their own legitimacy within China.”

Conference Flyer

More information can be found on the University of Heidelberg’s conference page.