Professor William Schabas is the final commissioner to be appointed as a member of the International Commission of Inquiry in Incidents of War Crimes in the Hawaiian Islands—The Larsen Case that stems from the Larsen v. Hawaiian Kingdom arbitration held at the Permanent Court of Arbitration from 1999-2001. Professor Schabas was appointed by the Provisional Government of the Hawaiian Kingdom and Dexter Kaiama, attorney for Lance Larsen, on October 14, 2017.
The Commission of Inquiry has been duly constituted which comprises of Professor Schabas from Middlesex University London and the University of Leiden, Professor Pierre D’Argent from the University of Louvain and Professor Jean d’Aspremont from the University of Manchester.
In these proceedings, the Provisional Government of the Hawaiian Kingdom is represented by Dr. Keanu Sai, as Agent, Professor Federico Lenzerini, Ph.D., as Deputy-Agent, and Ben Emmerson, QC, from the Matrix Chambers in London, as Counsel.
William Schabas is professor of international law at Middlesex University in London. He is also professor of international criminal law and human rights at the University of Leiden. Professor Schabas is also emeritus professor of human rights law at the National University of Ireland Galway and honorary chairman of the Irish Centre for Human Rights, invited visiting scholar at the Paris School of International Affairs (Sciences Politiques), honorary professor at the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences in Beijing, visiting fellow of Kellogg College of the University of Oxford, visiting fellow of Northumbria University, and professeur associé at the Université du Québec à Montréal. Prof. Schabas is a ‘door tenant’ at the chambers of 9 Bedford Row, in London.
Professor Schabas holds BA and MA degrees in history from the University of Toronto and LLB, LLM and LLD degrees from the University of Montreal, as well as honorary doctorates in law from several universities. He is the author of more than twenty books dealing in whole or in part with international human rights law, including: The Universal Declaration of Human Rights: travaux préparatoires (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2013); Unimaginable Atrocities, Justice, Politics and Rights at the War Crimes Tribunals (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2012), The International Criminal Court: A Commentary on the Rome Statute (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2010), Introduction to the International Criminal Court (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2011, 4th ed.), Genocide in International Law (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2nd ed., 2009) and The Abolition of the Death Penalty in International Law (Cambridge, Cambridge University Press, 2003, 3rd ed.). He has also published more than 350 articles in academic journals, principally in the field of international human rights law and international criminal law. His writings have been translated into Russian, German, Spanish, Portuguese, Chinese, Japanese, Arabic, Persian, Turkish, Nepali and Albanian.
Professor Schabas is editor-in-chief of Criminal Law Forum, the quarterly journal of the International Society for the Reform of Criminal Law.He is President of the Irish Branch of the International Law Association and chair of the International Institute for Criminal Investigation. From 2002 to 2004 he served as one of three international members of the Sierra Leone Truth and Reconciliation Commission. Professor Schabas has worked as a consultant on capital punishment for the United Nations Office of Drugs and Crime, and drafted the 2010 and 2015 reports of the Secretary-General on the status of the death penalty.
Professor Schabas was named an Officer of the Order of Canada in 2006. He was elected a member of the Royal Irish Academy in 2007. He has been awarded the Vespasian V. Pella Medal for International Criminal Justice of the Association internationale de droit pénal, and the Gold Medal in the Social Sciences of the Royal Irish Academy.
The Commission of Inquiry will hold its first hearing in Honolulu on January 16 and 17, 2018, which marks the 125th year of the United States’ invasion on the 16th, the illegal overthrow of the Hawaiian government on the 17th, and the ensuing prolonged occupation since. According to Article III of the Special Agreement to form an International Commission of Inquiry:
“The Commission is requested to determine: First, what is the function and role of the Government of the Hawaiian Kingdom in accordance with the basic norms and framework of international humanitarian law; Second, what are the duties and obligations of the Government of the Hawaiian Kingdom toward Lance Paul Larsen, and, by extension, toward all Hawaiian subjects domiciled in Hawaiian territory and abroad in accordance with the basic norms and framework of international humanitarian law; and, Third, what are the duties and obligations of the Government of the Hawaiian Kingdom toward Protected Persons who are domiciled in Hawaiian territory and those Protected Persons who are transient in accordance with the basic norms and framework of international humanitarian law.”