Complicity in a War of Agression

Event date
13 October 2022
Event time
12:45 - 14:00
Oxford week
MT 1
The Dorfman Centre, St Peter's College, and Online via Zoom
Dr Nikola R Hajdin

To join (whether in person or online), please complete the registration form by 5:30pm on Wednesday 12 October. Please note that if you register after this time, a Zoom link may not be sent to you.


The crime of aggression requires that the perpetrator be in a position effectively to exercise control over – or to direct – the political or military action of a state. This requirement, called the “leadership clause,” has led to the view that private individuals (such as industrialists) are excluded from criminal responsibility because they do not control or direct the state. In this talk, I will present my recent article where I argue against this dominant view and outline an analytical framework for criminal complicity in a war of aggression. I will propose that “control or direct” requires an assessment of whether the individual played a decisive role (or made a “but for” contribution) in the formulation of the state policy to use armed force. If so, the individual reaches the lower threshold of criminal responsibility and may be convicted of the crime of  aggression, so long as other actus reus and mens rea requirements are satisfied.


Dr Nikola R. Hajdin is a fellow with the Faculty of Law and Christ Church, Oxford University. He holds a PhD degree from Stockholm University, an LLM from Lund University, and LLM and LLB degrees from the University of Belgrade. Dr Hajdin was a visiting researcher/fellow at Harvard Law School and Cambridge Law School (Lauterpacht Centre for International Law). Prior coming to academia, he practiced law in Serbia, Sweden, the Netherlands and France for almost five years in total. In 2016, he was an intern at the European Court of Human Rights in Strasbourg. In 2015 and 2016, he worked for the Office of the Prosecutor at the International Criminal Court where he co-drafted the Policy on Children. In 2016, he also worked as a Case Reporter for the Oxford Reports on International Law. In 2015, he was a research assistant to Professor John Cerone at the Raoul Wallenberg Institute of Human Rights. Since 2014, he has published peer-reviewed academic articles in international journals, book chapters, case notes for the Oxford University Press, and a few blogs, all related to the issues of international law. His work has been published in, amongst others, the American Journal of International Law and the Leiden Journal of International Law.

Public International Law Discussion Group

The Public International Law Discussion Group at the University of Oxford is a key focal point for PIL@Oxford and hosts regular speaker events. Topics involve contemporary and challenging issues in international law. Speakers include distinguished international law practitioners, academics, and legal advisers from around the world.

PIL Discussion Group Convenor: 
Natasha Holcroft-Emmess.

The Discussion Group's meetings are part of the programme of the British Branch of the International Law Association and are supported by the Law Faculty and Oxford University Press.

The seminar will commence at 12:45pm UK Time and the speaker will present for around 30-40 minutes, with around 30 minutes for questions and discussion. The meeting should conclude by 2pm UK Time.

Practitioners, academics and students from within and outside the University of Oxford are all welcome.

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