On Friday April 12 Patricia O’Brien, the United Nations Under-Secretary General for Legal Affairs and UN Legal Counsel, delivered the first Oxford Global Justice Lecture. The lecture titled “International Criminal Justice: Where Do We Stand Today?” was also the keynote lecture for the 2013 Annual Conference of the International Law Association (British Branch) which was held in Oxford on 12 and 13 April.

The Oxford Global Justice Lecture was recently established by the Oxford Law Faculty, as an annual lecture to be delivered each year by a leading figure in international law. The lecture series is generously supported by the Planethood Foundation.

In her lecture, Patricia O’Brien addressed three main themes. Firstly, she identified the principal challenges faced by international criminal justice today. Secondly, she analysed some of the theoretical bases for international criminal justice. Thirdly, she looked at the principal effects of the developments in international criminal law over the past two decades. She remarked that “One of the most important developments . . . has been the gradual ‘domestication’ of the norms of international criminal law.” In her view, “We must therefore recognise accountability as the core of international criminal justice. . . . Justice, peace and democracy are not mutually exclusive objectives, but rather mutually reinforcing imperatives. Accountability is an integral element in promoting and ensuring the rule of law at the domestic and at the international levels.”

After Ms O’Brien’s lecture there was a lively panel discussion with Professor Payam Akhavan (McGill Law School), Professor Charles Jalloh (University of Pittsburgh) and Don Ferencz of the Planethood Foundation providing comments on and reactions to the lecture.

The full text of MsO'Brien's lecture can be found here.