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History of the International Association of Penal Law

  1. The International Association of Penal Law (I.A.P.L./A.I.D.P) was founded in Paris on March 14, 1924. The Association is the successor of the International Union of Penal Law (I.U.P.L./U.I.D.P.) which had been founded in 1889 in Vienna by three important penalists: Franz Von Liszt, Gérard Van Hamel and Adolphe Prins. This association was dissolved as a result of World War I.
  2. The I.A.P.L. is worldwide the oldest association of specialists in penal law and one of the oldest scientific associations. Since 1924 the I.A.P.L. acquired in its field of action a particular status among the other organisations, scientists, experts and governmental and professional authorities. This field of actions covers: 1) Criminal policy and codification of penal law. 2) Comparative criminal law. 3) International criminal law (with a specialization in international criminal justice) and 4) Human rights in the administration of criminal justice.
  3. The I.A.P.L. devoted its activities to problems of international criminal law and the responsibility of authors of internationally committed crimes. Since its foundations the members of the Association were always particularly active in the development of the international criminal law, thus influenced by Vespasian V. PELLA, the minister representing Romania in the Society of Nations (1938 – 1952).Moreover, the Association, by its manifold activities, meetings, publications as well as by its congress and expert committees organized together with the International Institute of Higher Studies in Criminal Sciences (I.S.I.S.C., Siracusa, Italy) which works under the scientific guidance of the Association, played an important role in the establishment of a permanent international criminal court. Apart from a great number of its members whose activities contributed to the creation of such international jurisdiction,  the role of Professor M. Cherif Bassiouni in the creation of the International Criminal Court which was established by the Rome treaty on July 17, 1998 and in the preparation of which he contributed as the president of the drafting committee, has to be particularly emphasized.
  4. Due to its internal organization which opens the Association worldwide to all penalists, also to young penalists (cf. “Young Penalists”) and based on about fifty national groups, the Association develops a fruitful scientific life. These scientific activities are furthered by the Scientific Committee whose task culminates in the organization of the quinquennial congresses which are prepared by preparatory colloquia covering the four topics of the congress (Substantial criminal law, Special criminal Law, procedural penal law and international criminal law).The scientific activities of the Association is documented by its official publications. i.e. 1) The Revue Internationale de Droit Pénal (International Review of Penal Law), published twice a year since 1924 and distributed in three languages (English, French and Spanish) to more than sixty countries; 2) The Nouvelles Études Pénales which contain the results of specialized meetings of national groups or of expert committees on subjects of international interest as well as the acts of conferences held at the Institute of Higher Studies in Criminal Sciences (I.S.I.S.C.); 3) The Acts of international Congresses, which cover the discussions and results of international congresses and which contain the adopted resolutions.
  5. The history of the I.A.P.L. was particularly marked by the foundation of the International institute of Higher Studies in Criminal Sciences (I.S.I.S.C.) in Siracusa (Italy) in 1970. The Institute is a public foundation with NGO status under the scientific guidance of the I.A.P.L. (see above the paragraph on the Institute). Countless scientific activities (colloquia, seminars, expert committees and training courses) are organized in collaboration of I.A.P.L. and I.S.I.S.C., often in cooperation with international organizations (U.N., Council of Europe etc.) and with other NGOs in particular aimed at the preparation of international instruments in the field covered by the Association (e.g. the Draft Convention on the Suppression of Torture, adopted by the U.N. General Assembly in 1984).
  6. The history of the I.A.P.L. underlines the role of this Association in the field of criminal sciences The history underlines also its dynamism in the continuing efforts to realize its objectives and its adaptation to the needs of the modern world.


See, RIDP 2015, 3-4:  Documentation historique de l’Association /  A Historial Record of the Association / Un Registro histórico de la Asociación (1889-2014)