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Workshop in the Hague

In the ever-evolving landscape of international law and human rights, the pursuit of justice, accountability, and protection remains a necessity. On March 14, 2024, Ph.D. students and candidates from various European countries gathered in The Hague for a workshop organized by the Central European Academy. Hosted against the backdrop of one of the world’s foremost centers for international law, the workshop served as a pivotal platform for fruitful discussions, knowledge exchange, and critical analysis of pressing issues within the realms of international criminal law, human rights, and other legal dilemmas.

As the global community faces challenges ranging from armed conflicts to technological advancements, it is imperative to uphold fundamental rights and promote accountability. Attendees were treated to a diverse array of presentations, each offering unique insights and perspectives on pertinent issues. From the protection of vulnerable populations, including children and victims of torture, to the intersection of law and technology in the digital age, the topics covered multiple issues old and new that the world is facing currently.

The workshop was skillfully moderated by a distinguished panel, including experts such as Dániel Csonka, Diplomat Lawyer from the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade of Hungary; Dr. Nóra Béres, a Senior Researcher at the Ferenc Mádl Institute of Comparative Law and Assistant Professor at the University of Miskolc, Hungary; and Dr. György Marinkás, also a Senior Researcher at the Ferenc Mádl Institute of Comparative Law and Associate Professor at the University of Miskolc. Additionally, the valuable insights contributed by Dr. Prof. János Ede Szilágyi, Strategy Director at the Central European Academy, Head of Ferenc Mádl Institute of Comparative Law and Full Professor at the University of Miskolc, further enriched the discussions with his insightful comments and thought-provoking questions.

Through collaborative efforts and knowledge sharing, participants sought to identify pragmatic solutions and pave the way toward a more just and equitable future. The subsequent presentations offered an insightful analysis of various relevant topics.

Protection of Vulnerable Populations

Asea Gašparić’s presentation „Exemption of Children from Prosecution in International Criminal Law” explored the legal frameworks concerning child soldiers in international law. Emphasis was placed on defining ‘child’ and ‘child soldier,’ addressing challenges in their prosecution, due to varying minimum ages, and analyzing the legal responsibility of recruiters. The delicate balance between accountability and protection within international law was highlighted, underscoring ongoing efforts to prioritize the best interests of the child.

Dr Rebecca Hassanova’s research “Torture and its Persecution” analyzed the prohibition of torture in international law, focusing on its inclusion in the core crimes of the Rome Statute under Art.7 and Art.8. The presentation focused on the main differences of the notion itself included in different fields of law, and the incoherence stemming from it. The presentation highlighted differences in the notion of torture across various legal fields and explored associated challenges.

Josipa Kokić’s presentation titled “Children’s Rights and Parental Responsibility in the International Community” traced the historical development of the relationship between children and parents within the framework of international law. Focus areas included parental responsibility, changes due to external factors, and relevant treaty provisions aimed at safeguarding children’s rights.

Environmental Protection and Armed Conflicts

In the presentation titled „Protection of the Environment in International Criminal Law: Between Illusion and Reality”, Enikő Krajnyák evaluated the possibilities of addressing the destruction of the environment in the context of war crimes as regulated in Article 8(2)(b)(iv) of the Rome Statute and reflected on the difficulties, limits, and possible development directions of international criminal law concerning the protection of the environment. Particular attention was dedicated to the International Criminal Court(ICC) Prosecutor’s policy paper from 2016 and the Independent Expert Panel’s proposal on the legal definition of ecocide from 2021.

Ágota Szekeres, in her presentation titled „Can Damaging Water Utility Services be Interpreted under the International Criminal Court?” addressed the weaponization of water systems within the framework of international humanitarian law. By examining the significance of the 1977 Additional Protocols to the Geneva Conventions, she underscored the importance of protecting civilian water systems during armed conflicts. She contended that the Al-Bashir case in front of the ICC presents a significant opportunity to confront the issue of the weaponization of water. The discussion highlighted increasing trends of water-related conflicts and proposed strategies for enhancing protection.

Miklós Mádl’s and Błażej Tazbir’s joint presentation “The Protection of Nuclear Installations During Armed Conflicts” addressed attacks on nuclear power plants during armed conflicts, examining specialized protections granted to such facilities under international humanitarian law. They discussed the safeguards outlined in Additional Protocol I and examined the scenarios in which these protections are lifted, along with determining when an attack on nuclear plants constitutes a war crime. The presentation also explored the applicability of current regulations to Small Modular Reactors. They tried to provide an answer to the question of whether nuclear installations fall under the jurisdiction of the ICC, to do so they presented two approaches to the list of war crimes established in the Rome Statute: the extended jurisdiction approach and the exhaustive list approach.

In the presentation titled “International Crimes and Protection of Human Rights in Outer Space,” László Mezey focused on the practical application of Earth Observation(EO) data as evidence in criminal proceedings at the ICC. The presentation introduced the international legal framework governing the use of Earth Observation Data in different legal proceedings, while it also showed how the ICC regulates the use of digital evidence generally, and more specifically satellite images. Also, he focused on existing criminal cases in front of the ICC, in which EO data was used as evidence, while it also explored the presenter’s practical concerns about the dangers of the use of EO data in criminal proceedings.

Milica Ilic’s presentation “Employer’s Criminal Liability for Environmental Crimes” discussed employer liability for environmental crimes, emphasizing the responsibility to ensure proper training and supervision when handling hazardous materials. The discussion underscored the need for criminal law interventions to protect the environment amid industrial development.

Role of International Institutions and Legal Dynamics

Judita Juharová’s presentation “Between Sovereignty and Universality: The Margin of Appreciation” provided an overview of the margin of appreciation in international law, emphasizing its role in reconciling diverse national contexts with human rights standards. Case studies were examined to illustrate how this legal doctrine fosters a balanced approach between universal rights and state sovereignty.

Lea Feuerbach’s presentation titled “Examining the International Criminal Court’s Influence on Crime Prevention and Recidivism” analyzed the ICC’s dual role in deterring criminal behavior (specific deterrence) and dissuading others through general deterrence, examining how ICC sentencing practices influence individual behavior and contribute to the broader understanding of recidivism. She presented the nuances of ICC sentencing practices and rehabilitation efforts, aiming to explore innovative strategies for crime deterrence beyond individual punishments.

In the presentation titled “Financial Investigations and Asset Recovery Efforts,” Zsófia Farkas examined the significance of financial investigations in aiding the ICC’s efforts in combatting ongoing criminal activities. The discussion emphasized the importance of cooperation between States Parties and the ICC in facilitating these investigations and enhancing the court’s effectiveness.

Emma Szitás presented the “Right to Property in the Realm of Human Rights” where she discussed the evolution of property rights as a fundamental human right, emphasizing their interconnectedness with individual freedom and economic well-being. She highlighted the importance of protecting property and civilians during armed conflicts, reflecting a global effort to safeguard fundamental human rights.

Intersection of Law and Technology

In Csaba Szabó’s presentation titled „Algorithms Redefining Human Rights: Examining Human Rights from a Platform Work Perspective,” the focus was on the impact of algorithms on human rights and labour law. The discussions centered on the challenges posed by algorithmic decision-making in the realm of platform work, highlighting the importance of developing legal frameworks within labor law to safeguard the rights of individuals amidst technological advancements.

Tomasz Miroslawski’s presentation titled “Surveillance in the Sphere of Work in Terms of International Legislation” examined the legal analysis of outcomes of increasing interaction between people and technology(AI) and the dangers connected with it, especially towards the protection of personal data and the privacy of employees implications of increasing surveillance in the workplace from an international and European law perspective. Focus areas included employee rights, privacy protections, and challenges posed by technological advancements.

National Implementation of International Obligations

Nikolina Marasovic’s presentation “The Role of National Parliaments as Guarantors of Human Rights” underscored the key role of national parliaments in upholding human rights through legislative and supervisory functions. Emphasis was placed on transferring international obligations into national laws and policies to strengthen the rule of law.

In the presentation titled “The Deputy of the Head of State as a Representative of the Country in International Relations in Selected European Countries. Comparative analysis,” Weronika Pietras answered the question of who performs the duties of the president when the president is not able to perform them and also examined the role of deputy heads of state in representing countries in international relations, particularly in the context of ratifying international agreements. Comparative analysis was conducted across EU member states with republican systems.

Zuzanna Żurawska’s presentation titled “The Role of the national parliament in Poland in Implementing International Law” focused on the participation of the national parliament as a body in the process of implementing international law, as well as the legal situation itself in this respect. The main point of reference/legal act on which she based her presentation was the Constitution of the Republic of Poland of 2 April 1997 and the regulations contained therein concerning this topic. She also addressed the issue of the hierarchy of legal acts in Poland and the ratification of international agreements.

The workshop wrapped up with an enriched understanding of diverse legal dynamics in international criminal law, human rights, and associated domains. Participants engaged in fruitful exchanges of insights delved into emerging challenges, and collectively explored potential pathways for legal advancements to tackle contemporary global issues effectively.

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