CFA: Benjamin B. Ferencz Essay Competition (Deadline: May 15, 2015)

Announcing the Second Edition of the Benjamin B. Ferencz Essay Competition: On the relation between unlawful use of force and the war crime of disproportionate force not justified by military necessity

$10,000 Prize for first place; $2,500 for second and third place!

** Please pass this on to a colleague or student who you think may be interested **

At the Nuremberg trial, the British Prosecutor, Sir Hartley Shawcross, famously said: “The killing of combatants in war is justifiable, both in international and in municipal law, only where the war itself is legal. But where the war is illegal … there is nothing to justify the killing, and these murders are not to be distinguished from those of any other lawless robber bands.”

In the years since Nuremberg, however, jus ad bellum (the legality of launching a war) and jus in bello (the legality of the conduct of the war) have largely been viewed as distinct and unrelated. The conventional view is that the crime of aggression (jus ad bellum) cannot now be tried at the International Criminal Court (ICC), whose jurisdiction is currently limited to war crimes, crimes against humanity, and genocide. But some commentators and jurists have suggested that the law of war proportionality and necessity principles may be judged in part based on the legality of the war and its military objective, thereby enabling the ICC to consider the question of jus ad bellum in a war crimes trial.

Individuals interested in addressing the relationship between jus ad bellum and jus in bello in the context of modern war crimes trials are invited to participate in the second edition of the Benjamin B. Ferencz Essay Competition, hosted by the Frederick K. Cox International Law Center at Case Western Reserve University School of Law. The contest is named in honor of famed Nuremberg Prosecutor, Ben Ferencz, who has devoted his life to achieving peace through justice.


The first-place winner will receive an award of $10,000 (USD) and a plaque commemorating the achievement. Second- and third-place runners-up each will receive an honorable mention and a plaque as well as runner-up awards in the amount of $2,500 (USD). All three top essays will be published in the spring 2016 volume of the Case Western Reserve Journal of International Law.

Contest Rules

Scholars, students, and practitioners are all encouraged to participate. Co-written entries are permitted (with the prize split between co-authors).

If you are interested in entering the contest, you must register your intent to participate by emailing by May 15, 2015. Please include your contact information and affiliation.

The deadline for submission of completed essays is Friday, Aug. 28, 2015, at 5 P.M. (EST). Completed essays must be emailed as a word attachment to by that date.

Essays should be approximately 25-40 pages in length (single spaced, 12 point font with between 100-300 footnotes). They should be in the form of a balanced scholarly treatment of the issue, fully analyzing/critiquing both sides and considering a range of possible scenarios. Submissions will be judged by an international panel of experts, chaired by Dean Michael Scharf of Case Western Reserve University School of Law.

The winners will be notified by email and publicly announced at the opening of International Law Weekend Midwest, “The International Law Legacy of the Obama Administration,” held at Case Western Reserve University on September 18, 2015, which will be webcast live at:

*The sponsors/organizers reserve the right not to award one or more of the prizes in the event of insufficient participation at a sufficiently high quality of scholarship.