Professor Mia Swart to speak in Liverpool

Tuesday 15th November 2016 4.30pm, Rendall Building, Lecture Theatre 1

Shifting Sands: From collective reparations to individual reparations and back

Do we act as individuals or as groups? Do we fundamentally regard ourselves as individuals (who are responsible for our own fate and act autonomously) or as collectivities? These are the core questions explored by Philippe Sands in his recent play ‘A Song of Good and Evil’ and  his new book East West Street in which he juxtaposes the personalities and work of Hersch Lauterpacht and Raphael Lemkin. Lemkin’s focus is on ‘group victims’. He described acts of genocide as acts ‘directed against individuals, not in their individual capacity, but as members of national groups’. In developing the concept of ‘crimes against humanity’ Lauterpacht held the view that what matters is that victims suffer as individuals. In my paper I will draw from Sands’ work to develop a theory on whether, in the context of mass atrocity, victims suffer individually or collectively and the implications of this question for the reparations regime of the ICC and other reparations programmes. I will consider the critique the current practice of the ICC which focuses on making reparations of the collective kind.


Mia Swart is Professor of International Law at the University of Johannesburg. She previously worked as Research Fellow at the Bingham Centre for the Rule of Law in London and as Assistant Professor of Public International law and Global Justice at Leiden University, from which she earned her Ph.D in 2006. Under the supervision of Professor John Dugard and funded by Huygens and Mandela scholarships, she completed a thesis on the topic of Judicial Lawmaking at the ad hoc International Criminal Tribunals. She is an Honorary Associate Professor at the University of the Witwatersrand in Johannesburg, where she previously worked as Associate Professor. Mia focuses her research on  transitional justice, international criminal law, and comparative constitutional law. Mia’s work has been cited by courts such as the Cape High Court as well as the International Criminal Court. She  regularly contributes to local and international media.