The ESIL IG on International Criminal Justice is organising a conference on ‘Torture by Non-State Actors: Rationale(s), Legal Frameworks and Implications’. The conference, co-organised with the Journal of International Criminal Justice (OUP), will be held online on 30 March 2021.

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, organized by the ESIL Interest Group on International Criminal Justice and co-sponsored by the Journal of International Criminal Justice (OUP), 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’.

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