Henry Morris Lecture in International and Comparative Law -
The Quiet Expansion of Universal Jurisdiction: Extraterritorial Prosecutions of Human Rigts Crimes


Tuesday, October 29, 2019

12 p.m.


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Join Professor Máximo Langer, Professor of Law at the School of Law of the University of California, Los Angeles, for the Henry Morris Lecture in International and Comparative Law titled "The Quiet Expansion of Universal Jurisdiction: Extraterritorial Prosecutions of Human Rights Crimes."

Based on an original worldwide survey of all universal jurisdiction complaints over core international crimes presented between 1961 and 2017 and against widespread perception by international criminal law experts that universal jurisdiction is in decline, this lecture will show that universal jurisdiction practice has been quietly expanding as there has been a significant growth in the number of universal jurisdiction trials, in the frequency with which these trials take place year by year, and in the geographical scope of universal jurisdiction litigation. This expansion is likely the result of, among other factors, the adoption of ICC implementing statutes, the creation of specialized international crimes units by states, institutional learning by states and NGOs, technological changes, new migration and refugee waves to universal jurisdiction states, criticisms of international criminal law as neo-colonial, and the search of new venues by human rights NGOs. The expansion of universal jurisdiction has been quiet because most tried defendants have been low-level, universal jurisdiction states have not made an effort to publicize these trials, and observers have wrongly assumed that Belgium and Spain were representative of universal jurisdiction trends. The lecture will finally assess positive and negative aspects of the quiet expansion of universal jurisdiction for its defenders and critics.

Lecturer - Professor Máximo Langer, Professor of Law, University of California Los Angeles

Máximo Langer is Professor of Law at the School of Law of the University of California, Los Angeles, United States, where he teaches Criminal Law, Comparative Criminal Procedure and International and Transnational Criminal Law since 2003. Besides teaching at UCLA, Professor Langer has taught at, among other institutions, the University Torcuato DiTella School of Law in Argentina and Harvard Law School (where he was Louis D. Brandeis Visiting Professor of Law). Professor Langer is also the Director of the UCLA Transnational Program on Criminal Justice, the Founding Faculty Director of the Criminal Justice Program at UCLA School of Law, the Vice President of the American Society of Comparative Law, and a Member of the American Law Institute. He obtained his abogado degree at the University of Buenos Aires School of Law and his Doctor of Juridical Science degree at Harvard Law School. He has authored many publications on criminal law and criminal procedure and his work has been translated to and published in multiple languages and has received awards from several professional associations. 

Henry Morris Endowment
This program is funded through the Henry Morris Endowment. An 1889 graduate of the Chicago-Kent College of Law, Henry Crittendon Morris (1863-1948) enjoyed a distinguished career as an international lawyer and diplomat. During 25 years of foreign service prior to World War I, Mr. Morris served as the United States Consul in Ghent, Belgium, and as Secretary to Chief Justice Fuller at the Permanent International Court at the Hague. When the war broke out, he returned to Chicago to coordinate Red Cross and Liberty Loan campaigns on behalf of the American war effort. Mr. Morris was a member of the American Society of International Law and a number of other organizations devoted to improving international relations. He was the author of The History of Colonization from the Earliest Times to the Present Day (1906). The French government made him a chevalier of the French Legion of Honor in 1937.


This program is eligible for 1 hour of general IL MCLE credit. 


Tuesday, October 29, 2019


12 p.m.


Chicago-Kent College of Law

565 W. Adams St.

Ogilvie Auditorium 


The lecture is free and open to the public but registration is required.


Chicago-Kent Alumni Association