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Research Seminar Series - Punishing Atrocities

Event information

START DATE 19 December 2018

Middlesex University Dubai, Oasis Theatre

END DATE 19 December 2018

We are pleased to invite you to Wednesday Research Seminar. It will be held on December 19th  from 4pm, at Middlesex University Dubai in the Oasis Theatre, Block 16, Knowledge Park. The Wednesday Research Seminar Series was launched in 2008, and has featured more than 235 presentations to date. The seminars provide a forum for researchers to share their work. Presenters include faculty from Middlesex University Dubai and other universities in the United Arab Emirates, as well as researchers from other global institutions. Shahram Dana will deliver seminar on:

Punishing Atrocities

Shahram Dana


International trials dominate the global community’s response to mass atrocities.  Proponents claim that atrocity trials make crucial contributions to recognition of the trauma of mass violence and to reconciliation essential to avoiding transgenerational urges for revenge.  This paper critiques these claims by applying the perspectives of legitimacy theory to examine institutional and normative shortcomings of atrocity trials. The paper identifies specific internal failures of atrocity trials that damaged its moral or legal legitimacy.  It also analyses why atrocity trials frequently encounter external factors that challenge their social legitimacy. These shortcomings impede their capacity to contribute to reconciliation. Understanding this dynamic contributes to new knowledge regarding the limits of atrocity trials to address transgenerational repercussions arising from violent pasts and perceived historic victimhood. Moreover, the tendency of atrocity trials to narrate a rigid dichotomy between “victim” and “perpetrator” profoundly challenges its social legitimacy and capacity to achieve reconciliation. However, this paper also claims that social legitimacy is not static and theorizes how moral or legal legitimacy may over time turn the tide on future generations perceptions of social legitimacy. This paper hopes to contribute to new knowledge about the dynamic relationship between atrocity trials, reconciliation, and collective healing.


Shahram Dana is a public intellectual, academic, trial lawyer, and advisor engaged a broad range of scholarly and professional activities in the areas of criminal law, international law, transitional justice, human rights, and international criminal justice. His passion is fueled by a firm conviction that social policy must be deployed in a manner that optimizes law’s capacity to deliver prosperity, security, and justice for all humanity. This commitment to the oneness of humanity has guided his work at the United Nations prosecuting war crimes, crimes against humanity, and genocide; as a commissioner investigating torture by police; as a trial lawyer for indigent persons in the United States, and as a law teacher and scholar in North America, Europe, and Australia. Shahram's research focuses on the law and politics of international criminal justice mechanisms in protecting human rights and shaping world order and international law. His scholarship has been cited by leading international law scholars and practitioners in law reviews, briefs to courts, and NGO reports. His article Beyond Retroactivity to Realizing Justice received wide acclaim for advancing the normative foundation of fundamental principles of criminal law in international law. Shahram has advised on inter-governmental initiatives regarding international criminal justice and human rights in domestic legal systems. The Hague Academy for Judicial Expertise invited him to conduct training courses for high-level government officials, lawmakers, judges, and prosecutors from countries in Asia and Europe. And, the International Law Initiative invited him to be the lead facilitator in their training program for legal professionals from more than twenty African countries at the African Center for Legal Excellence in Uganda. Shahram has worked as a law academic or practitioner in Asia, Australia, Europe and North America, and travelled to more than 55 countries. 

If you are interested in presenting at one of our future seminars, or would like to recommend someone, please contact:

Middlesex Associates FZ LLC, Dubai Knowledge Park - Blocks 4, 16, 17 & 19
Admissions +971 (0)4 3678100

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