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A16 Transcultural Justice

Junior Research Group: Transcultural Justice: Legal Flows and the Emergence of International Justice within the East Asian War Crimes Trials, 1945-1954

Coordination: Kerstin von Lingen

Abstract

War Crimes Trials in East Asia contributed to the formation of transcultural norms of legality and legitimacy, as well as transnationally accepted notions of “justice.” The aim of this project is to examine the interaction between War Crimes trials policy in Europe and Asia after 1945. The analysis focuses on the Legal Committee of the United Nations War Crimes Commission in London and the Sub-Commission for the Far East at Chongking, as well as on selected case studies of prosecution in East Asia (Dutch/French case, Sino-Soviet legal relations).
Central Research focus of this project is to analyse the interaction of concepts of legality and justice between Asia and Europe during the War Crimes Trials program in various countries in East Asia between 1945 and 1954, taking into account the legal proceedings, the role of the United Nations War Crimes Commission, as well as the political implications emanating from Decolonization and Cold War considerations. From East Asia, especially from the Judge’s bench at Tokyo and the UN Sub-Commission at Chongking, discourse on the universality, desirability and typology of legal rule later returned into western legal debates. By focusing on the assignments of staff and judges first during the trials and secondly after the War Crimes Trials in various UN commissions and at academic positions at European universities, one hypothesis of this research group’s project is to detect the interaction and possible “flow-back” of this Asian experience to the West. The central hypothesis is that Western debates on the rule of law cannot be seen in geographic isolation, but emerged within a broader transcultural space of discourse and related movement of people and ideas between Asia and Europe.
The project supports the Cluster’s objective of studying the complex transcultural dimensions of international justice and legal jurisdiction behind the emergence of concepts and institutions in the years after the Second World War: The East Asia War Crimes trials and the UN Sub-Commission at Chongking thus served as a key experimental ground for the emergence of postcolonial ideas of international law and justice.

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JRG Transcultural Justice and associated GPTS projects at Hongkong

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