Wars, War Crimes and Their Consequences

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Los_horrores_de_la_guerraMultidisciplinary Research Workshop

organized by

the HEC Academic Practice Group

5 March 2014, 11.00-13.00, MWP Common Room, Badia


Whether hot or cold, wars and their crimes have left deep fractures in the legal, economic and social fabric of European society. It is therefore not so surprising that many Max Weber Fellows are interested in wars, war crimes and their consequences in the modern world. This workshop hopes to reflect the importance not only of this topic itself, but also of adopting an interdisciplinary approach in order to fully understand the depth and breadth of the effects of wars and war crimes.

–          What are our different methodological approaches to understanding wars, war crimes and their consequences?
–          Do these consequences change in time and space, or can we discern patterns?
–          Whilst many of us are aware of the visible and immediate consequences of wars and war crimes, what about the slower shifts we can discern?
–          What of the total absence of consequence in view of wars and war crimes?
–          How politicised do these consequences become?
–          Are they imposed from the highest ranks in society, or are they brought about by more grass-roots phenomena?

In order to address these issues, three Max Weber Fellows will deliver papers on aspects of their research which deal precisely with this topic. Franziska Exeler (HEC) will begin by discussing the immediate post-war period in Belorussia. In a country torn between Nazi and Soviet Occupations, issues of punishment, retribution, and justice following the Second World War were deeply complicated. The actions (and inactions) of individuals during the war were to be read through the lens of a new post-war political regime, and a number of legal (and illegal) procedures were put into place to address these. What were the means and meaning of these procedures in post-Occupation Soviet Belorussia? Ludivine Broch (HEC) will examine the problem from another perspective: that of French companies in the late 20th century. The actions and inactions of institutions – rather than individuals – have been heavily discussed since the 1990s. How does delayed justice deal with the new problems of collective responsibility for mass crimes and genocide? The case of the French Railways gives a particularly interesting insight into this, not least because of its economic and transnational repercussions. Finally, Pablo Kalmanovitz (LAW) will examine the issue of post-war justice from a legal perspective. It is often argued, in contemporary transitional justice and human rights discourse, that states have a duty to compensate for serious violations of human rights and humanitarian law. However, in war contexts there are several public imperatives that compete with the duty to compensate, including providing basic socio-economic rights to those in serious need, and reconstructing damaged public goods. How should these different obligations be balanced or prioritized? Should compensation somehow trump the other imperatives?

Discussant: Valerie McGuire (HEC)

Chair: Phillip Ayoub (SPS)