Breakfast Briefing with Alexandre Skander Galand

International Law Breakfast Briefings

The Creation of International Criminal Tribunals as a Means of Reprisal: Reconsidering Personal Immunity in Wartime


The establishment of an ad hoc international criminal tribunal in the context of an ongoing armed conflict arguably makes the close links between international criminal law and reprisals resurface. The urge to establish that personal immunity does not apply before international criminal courts is founded on a compromise which accepts that personal immunity from foreign criminal jurisdiction is usually absolute. By revisiting the immunities of state officials from foreign criminal jurisdiction in light of the law on state responsibility, the laws of war, and self-defence, it will be shown that conceptually there may be other areas where personal immunity is inapplicable. Three different views on personal immunity’s non-applicability before international courts can be distinguished, taking into account factors like the court’s creation, international endorsement, and bases for jurisdiction. These perspectives suggest that ad hoc international criminal courts established during armed conflicts may be seen as a form of retorsions, sanctions, or reprisals within the framework of international criminal justice.

About the Speaker

Alexandre Skander Galand is an Assistant Professor of International Law at Maastricht University. He is an international law scholar, specialised in international criminal law, international human rights law and international humanitarian law. Alexandre is an Associate Editor of the Oxford Reports on International Human Rights Law / UN Treaty Bodies and Co-Coordinator of the European Society of International Law’s Interest Group on International Criminal Justice. He is a member of the Barreau du Québec (Canada) and holds a PhD in International Law from the European University Institute (EUI). Before joining Maastricht University, he held postdoctoral research positions at the Hertie School, the EUI, the University of Oxford and Koç University, and was a visiting fellow at the University of Essex and the University of Turin.

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See a list of all the Breakfast Briefings for Spring 2024.