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Kerstin von Lingen publishes habilitation

Aug 22, 2018

PD Dr. Kerstin von Lingen recently published her habilitation "Crimes against Humanity. Eine Ideengeschichte der Zivilisierung von Kriegsgewalt 1864–1945." It traces the path of international humanitarian law and focuses on the development of "Crimes against Humanity" as judicial tool for judging mass atrocities against civilians.

The publication "Crimes against Humanity" addresses the normative account of the concept of crimes against humanity from an intellectual history’s perspective. The concept is based on earlier attempts to civilize warfare since the mid nineteenth century, and in particular since the two the Hague Peace Conferences in 1899 and 1907. The underlying understanding of "humanity" and "civilized nations" is laid down within the preamble of the 1907 proceedings, the so-called Martens Clause. It became the blueprint for later—and not always successful—attempts to punish war crimes, specifically crimes against civilians up until the Nuremberg Tribunal in 1945, where a new agenda was set.

The decisive work of legal scholars has been often overlooked: forced into exile by Nazi occupation, they gathered in London to agree on new legal standards for judging crimes against civilians. In the second part of the study, von Lingen focuses on the work of several internationalist lawyers. The study considers their contributions to coin one of the most powerful legal tools of our times—"crimes against humanity"—within the discourse of strengthening human rights and the duty to humanitarian intervention against atrocities of any kind.

Author Kerstin von Lingen was a leader of the Junior Research Group A16 "Transcultural Justice: Legal Flows and the Emergence of International Justice within the East Asian War Crimes Trials, 1945-1954" at the Cluster "Asia and Europe." Currently, she is a guest professor at the Chair for Research on Genocide, Violence, and Dictatorship at the University of Vienna.


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