Sean Murphy to address crime of aggression in Wayne Law lecture

October 12, 2010

DETROIT (Oct. 12, 2010) - The Wayne State University Law School Program for International Legal Studies and the International Law Students Association are pleased to host a lecture by Sean Murphy, Patricia Roberts Harris Research Professor of Law at George Washington University Law School, at 12:15-1:30 p.m. on Wednesday, Nov. 3, in the Law School's Spencer M. Partrich Auditorium. Murphy's lecture is titled "The new crime of aggression before the International Criminal Court."

The war crimes trials at Nuremburg charged Nazi officials with "crimes against the peace" - acts of aggressive war. Germany's invasion of its neighbors became the centerpiece of the Allied case against the defendants. But when the new International Criminal Court (ICC) came into existence in 2002, the waging aggressive war was missing from the crimes it could prosecute.

In June 2010, parties to the ICC treaty added the crime of aggression to the court's statute. Murphy's lecture will discuss whether this controversial action is a victory for the legacy of Nuremburg or whether the conditions and caveats added by the parties involved cripple potential prosecutions for aggression in the future.

"Whether the crime of aggression is a good idea or not has deeply divided legal scholars and human rights activists," said Professor Gregory Fox, Wayne Law professor and director of the Program for International Legal Studies. "Sean Murphy has addressed this question as a scholar and advised the U.S. government on similar issues as a lawyer in the State Department. He is the ideal person to present both sides of this complex and fascinating question."

Murphy has written extensively on the ICC and the crime of aggression. Before joining George Washington University, he served as legal counselor at the U.S. Embassy in The Hague, arguing several cases before the International Court of Justice and representing the U.S. government in matters before the International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia, the Permanent Court of Arbitration and The Hague Conference on Private International Law. He also served as U.S. agent to the Iran-U.S. Claims Tribunal, arguing cases on behalf of the U.S. government and providing advice to U.S. nationals appearing before that tribunal. Between 1987 and 1995, he served in the U.S. Department of State Office of the Legal Adviser.

The event is free and open to the public, and lunch will be provided. Parking is available for $4.75 in WSU Structure #1 across from the Law School on West Palmer Street in Detroit. For directions to the Law School or to view a campus map, visit

For more information about the event or the Program for International Legal Studies, visit Wayne Law at or contact Fox at

Program for International Legal Studies
Wayne Law created the Program for International Legal Studies in recognition of the breadth of the faculty's international engagements and expertise and the fact that nearly all aspects of law now have an international component. From regulation of cross-border financial transactions to controlling pollution that recognizes no boundaries to human rights treaties that regulate how governments treat their citizens, law is now an interconnected global phenomenon.

The program coordinates all activities at Wayne Law related to international law. These activities include hosting the Speaker Series, sponsoring conferences and symposia featuring leading international scholars and practitioners, promoting research on international and comparative law topics, and providing important resources for Wayne Law students, alumni and friends interested in international law.

The program capitalizes on the Law School's world-renowned faculty members, who teach and write on a wide variety of international legal issues.

Wayne State University is a premier urban research university offering more than 400 academic programs through 13 schools and colleges to nearly 32,000 students.

For more information about Wayne State University Law School, visit