William Schabas (born 19 November 1950) is an author and academic in the field of international criminal and human rights law. He is a professor of international law, a senior lecturer at Middlesex University, and an internationally respected expert on human rights law, genocide, and the death penalty. In 2009 he has been elected President of International Association of Genocide Scholars. He is an Officer of the Order of Canada and a Member of the Royal Irish Academy. As of September 2011, he will be the Professor of International Law at Middlesex University in London.
Education and career
Schabas received his B.A. and M.A. degrees in History from the University of Toronto, and LL.B., LL.M. and LL.D. degrees from the University of Montreal, Canada. He has also been awarded honorary doctorates from Dalhousie University, Halifax, Case Western Reserve University, Cleveland and Northwestern University, Chicago. From 1991–2000 he was a professor of human rights law and criminal law at the University of Quebec, and chaired the Juridical Department from 1994–1998. He has taught as a visiting or adjunct professor at several other institutions, including McGill University, Queen's University Belfast, LUISS University in Rome, Cardoza Law School, Panthéon-Assas University and the National University of Rwanda. He is a member of the Board of Trustees of the United Nations Voluntary Fund for Technical Cooperation in the Field of Human Rights. Schabas served as one of seven commissioners on the Sierra Leone Truth and Reconciliation Commission.
Schabas has authored twenty-one books dealing in whole or in part with international human rights law including:
- Essays on the Rome Statute of the International Criminal Court Volume I. Diritto (n. 1). il Sirente, Fagnano Alto. 1999. p. 544. ISBN 978-88-87847-00-0.
- The Abolition of the Death Penalty in International Law (Cambridge University Press, 3d ed., 2003)
- Essays on the Rome Statute of the International Criminal Court Volume II. Diritto (n. 3). il Sirente, Fagnano Alto. 2004. p. 368. ISBN 978-88-87847-02-4.
- The U.N. International Criminal Tribunals: The Former Yugoslavia, Rwanda and Sierra Leone (Cambridge University Press, 2006)
- An Introduction to the International Criminal Court (Cambridge University Press, 3d ed. 2007)
- War Crimes and Human Rights: Essays on the Death Penalty, Justice and Accountability (Cambridge University Press, 2008)
- Genocide in International Law: The Crime of Crimes (Cambridge University Press, 2d ed., 2009)
- The International Criminal Court: A Commentary on the Rome Statute (Oxford University Press, 2010)
He has also published more than 300 articles in academic journals, primarily in the field of international human rights law and international criminal law.
Abolition of the Death Penalty
Schabas has been very active in the movement for world-wide abolition of capital punishment. His influential book The Abolition of the Death Penalty in International Law (Cambridge University Press, 3d ed., 2003) and his other writings on the subject have been referred to in judgments of national and international tribunals, including the Judicial Committee of the Privy Council, the United States Supreme Court, the Supreme Court of Canada and the Supreme Court of the Philippines. Schabas regularly lectures on capital punishment in China and the United States. In 2009, he was the consultant to the United Nations responsible for preparing the Secretary-General's quinquennial report on the status of capital punishment. Schabas is the Chair of the Scientific Advisory Board of the International Academic Network Against the Death Penalty and for a Universal Moratorium on Capital Punishment and Advisor to the International Centre for Death Penalty Research which is based at Beijing Normal University, Beijing.
Views on Genocide
Schabas argues that the legal term "genocide" is a loaded one that should not be used to describe every atrocity involving mass killings. In the strict legal sense, the only true "genocides" in recent history, he argues, were the Armenian Genocide, the Jewish and Gypsy Holocaust, and the Rwandan Genocide. Thus his book, Genocide in International Law: The Crimes of Crimes (Cambridge University Press, 2d ed., 2009), supports the view that Stalin’s atrocities in the Ukraine, the killings of Slav and Soviet citizens under the Nazi occupation, and the Holodomor were not, legally, genocide. The same book treats the Bosnian atrocities as ethnic cleansing and not as genocide, in contrast to the International Criminal Tribunal for the Former Yugoslavia (ICTY) and the International Court of Justice (ICJ) which ruled the crimes committed in Srebrenica to constitute genocide. However, it criticises the United Nations General Assembly for recognising ethnic cleansing as genocide.
His later book, War Crimes and Human Rights (Cambridge University Press, 2008), states that the killings by the Khmer Rouge in Cambodia during the late 1970s lacked "the ethnic dimension that is part of the essence of the crime [of genocide]." Schabas took the same position in 2001 in Cambodia: Was it Really Genocide?. Further, while strongly condemning the atrocities in Darfur, Schabas says that they should not be labelled genocide because, he argues in War Crimes and Human Rights, "the summary execution" of non-Arabs in Darfur "does not establish genocidal intent." The book War Crimes and Human Rights also criticises the International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia for finding a joint criminal enterprise to commit genocide in Srebrenica. The relatively restrictive interpretation of the crime of genocide that Schabas has advocated has been largely confirmed in the case law of such institutions as the International Court of Justice and the International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia.
A concise overview of his views on the invasion of the Israel forces in the Gaza strip, the Goldstone report, racism in Europe, death penalty, genocide, the Truth and Reconciliation Commission in Sierra Leone, the International Criminal Court, the ICC arrest warrant of President of Sudan Omar Hassan Ahmad al-Bashir and international criminal law in general can be found at his interview in the journal Intellectum.
- Schabas, William (27 April 2009). "curriculum vitae: William Schabas" (PDF). Retrieved 27 June 2009.
- Professor William Schabas President of IAGS, NUI Galway, 2009
- Schabas, supra note 1
- Schabas, William (18 September 2000). Genocide in International Law: The Crime of Crimes. Cambridge University Press. ISBN 0-521-78790-4. Retrieved 16 May 2009.
- Schabas, William (18 September 2000). Genocide in International Law: The Crime of Crimes. Cambridge University Press. pp. 175–200. ISBN 0-521-78790-4. Retrieved 16 May 2009.
- Schabas, William (31 March 2008). War Crimes and Human Rights. Cameron May. p. 766. ISBN 1-905017-63-4. Retrieved 16 May 2009.
- William Schabas, Cambodia: Was it Really Genocide?, 23 HUMAN RIGHTS QUARTERLY 470, 470–77 (2001).
- Schabas, William (31 March 2008). War Crimes and Human Rights. Cameron May. p. 751. ISBN 1-905017-63-4. Retrieved 16 May 2009.
- Victor Tsilonis. "Interview with Professor William Schabas_International Protection of Human Rights and Politics: an Inescapable Reality," Intellectum 7, (2010): pp.46–61.
- Introductory note by William Schabas on the Convention on the Prevention and Punishment of the Crime of Genocide in the Historic Archives of the United Nations Audiovisual Library of International Law
- Lecture by William Schabas on Genocide and International Law in the Lecture Series of the United Nations Audiovisual Library of International Law