Mea Culpa, Sua Culpa, Tua Maxima Culpa

Collective Responsibility and Legal Judgment in the Context of Crimes against Humanity - Oct 07, 2019
7 October, 2019


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A talk by Professor Nergis Canefe

Professor Nergis Canefe (Associate Professor, Center for Refugee Studies, Osgoode Hall Law School) delivered a talk at McGill, on the invitation of the Oppenheimer Chair and the CHRLP, revisiting the Nuremberg legacy from the perspective of collective responsibility and culpability. Due to the extensive the nature of harm involved in historic injustices, Professor Canefe posits that individual responsibility argument waged against historic justice claims carries forward a great deficit. Historic injustices and the harms they generate are best understood as collective harms. The response to such harms must have a collective component as well, and the remedies offered are only meaningful in a social and political context.

One common form of such harm, constitutive harm, significantly differs from the aggregative accounts of harm generally used by standard individual criminal litigation processes. It is the type of harm that people suffer as members of historically wronged groups and communities and often in the hands of the state that was poised to protect them. Therefore, historic injustice cases require a different account of responsibility, one that cannot be harnessed solely based on individual responsibility argumentation within the context of domestic or international criminal justice jurisprudence.

Her article urges that we make room for considerations pertaining to collective responsibility as a moral obligation, thus providing a context within which legal judgment for egregious crimes could be firmly situated and historicized.

About the speaker

Nergis Canefe is a scholar trained in the fields of Political Philosophy, Forced Migration Studies and International Public Law with special focus on Human Rights and state-society relations. She has over twenty years of experience in carrying out in-depth qualitative research with displaced communities and teaching human rights and public law globally. Her research experience includes working with the Muslim and Jewish Diasporas in Europe and North America, refugees and displaced peoples in Turkey, Cyprus, India, Uganda, South Africa, Bosnia and Colombia. national association for the study of forced migration).

Date: 7 Oct, 2019 Location: New Chancellor Day Hall Stephen Scott Seminar Room (OCDH 16), 3644 rue Peel, Montreal, QC, H3A 1W9, CA

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