LCIL Friday Lecture ‘Interpreting Crimes in the Rome Statute of the International Criminal Court’ by Dr Leena Grover

Friday, 8 May 2015 – 1:00pm

Lecture summary:  The first permanent international criminal court is governed by the Rome Statute, which defines more than ninety crimes under international law – genocide, other crimes against humanity, war crimes and aggression. How these crimes are interpreted contributes to findings of individual criminal liability and moreover affects the perceived legitimacy of the Court. So how should these crimes be interpreted? Broadly, so that violations of internationally recognized human rights are captured? Strictly, so that ambiguities are resolved in favour of the accused? Should interpretive outcomes be based on arguments about higher order justice, the immorality or illegality of the impugned conduct, how the conduct threatens international peace and security or the goal of ending impunity for the most serious crimes? And when interpreting crimes in the Rome Statute, should judges give primacy to the Elements of Crimes instrument or can they reject it and instead align their reasoning with other interpretive aids, such as custom or treaty law? These questions go to the heart of a more fundamental question: is it desirable for judges of the Court and lawyers appearing before them to have a shared method for thinking through interpretive problems arising from the Rome Statute? If so, what might that method look like? In her talk, Dr. Leena Grover will introduce some of the key findings in her new book, Interpreting Crimes in the Rome Statute of the International Criminal Court, published by Cambridge University Press in October 2014.

Dr Leena Grover is a Canadian lawyer with research interests in the areas of international criminal law, human rights, the law of international peace and security as well as transitional justice. As the recipient of a Swiss National Science Foundation research fellowship, she is currently writing her Habilitation on post-conflict constitutions and peace. Prior to this, Dr. Grover combined her academic work with more than a decade of legal practice, including at the International Criminal Court, International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia, UN Human Rights Committee, UN High Commissioner for Refugees, the Federal Court of Canada, an international commercial law firm and various organisations doing pro bono legal work. As legal adviser to the chief negotiators on the crime of aggression from 2007 to 2010, she assisted with drafting the definition of the crime for the Rome Statute. Dr. Grover’s work has appeared in the American Journal of International Law and the European Journal of International Law as well as been cited by judges of the International Criminal Court. In addition to her most recent book with Cambridge University Press, she has contributed to as well as assisted with the editing of several other Cambridge publications (UN Human Rights Treaty Bodies: Law and Legitimacy (2012), The Travaux Préparatoires of the Crime of Aggression (2012) and The Crime of Aggression – A Commentary (forthcoming)). Dr. Grover studied international relations and political science (University of Western Ontario) as well as law (University of Toronto) before obtaining her doctorate in law at the University of Cologne, where she also taught.


Speaker: Dr Leena Grover, Swiss National Science Foundation Research Fellow

Date: Friday, 8 May 2015

Time: 1pm with sandwiches from 12.30pm

Venue: Finley Library, Lauterpacht Centre, 5 Cranmer Rd, Cambridge