Online conference on ‘Torture by Non-State Actors: Rationale(s), Legal Frameworks and Implications’

The ESIL Interest Group on International Criminal Justice, in collaboration with the Grotius Centre for International Legal Studies and the Journal of International Criminal Justice (JICJ, OUP), is pleased to invite public international scholars, students and practitioners to attend a conference that will take place online on 30 March 2021 (12h00-13h45 CET) with the title “Torture by Non-State Actors: Rationale(s), Legal Frameworks and Implications”. 

In legal discourse, ‘torture’ is a term used to broadly describe the deliberate infliction of severe physical or mental pain and suffering upon a person. One controversial aspect of the legal definition of torture has been the status of the perpetrator/actor, that is, whose acts are relevant for the purposes of the torture definition under international law. Article 1 of the CAT recognizes that torture must be punishable when committed by a public official or a person acting in an official capacity, or when committed by a private person subject to the active or passive involvement of a public official or other person acting in an official capacity. While the Convention against Torture [CAT] considers the official capacity of the actor to be an element of the legal definition of torture, this is not the case under international humanitarian law and international criminal law. Current developments in domestic and transnational settings push us to reassess the reach of the concept of torture against unprecedented factual scenarios. This conference revives the question of ‘whose’ acts may amount to acts of torture under the CAT and, more broadly, under international and transnational law relating to the prohibition, prevention and repression of this crime, on the basis of ‘which rationales’ and with ‘what wider implications’.

Dr Le Moli and Dr Lo Giacco, Chair and Co-Chair of the Interest Group on International Criminal Justice and both Assistant Professors at Leiden University, will introduce the conference. Prof. Salvatore Zappalà, the Editor-in-Chief of the JICJ, will deliver the opening address and will be followed by a distinguished list of panelists and experts in the field, from both practice (Dr Tatyana Eatwell and Steven Powles QC, Doughty Street Chambers; Emilie Pottle, Temple Garden Chambers) and academia (Prof. Cheah Wui Ling, NUS; Prof. Clapham, IHEID; Prof. Gaeta, IHEID; and Prof. Nowak, University of Vienna). 

Those interested in attending the online event should register sending an email to Ms. Raghavi Viswanath at, providing name, last name and institution, by 29 March 2021 (18h00).

The programme can be found here.

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