Introducing Lexsitus: An international criminal legal ecosystem

The online service Lexsitus was released on 30 January 2018, as a new open access, global commons. It supports the learning of, and work with, legal sources in international criminal law. It is developed by the Centre for International Law Research and Policy (CILRAP), in partnership with Norway, the International Nuremberg Principles Academy, HELM Studio and Mithya Labs.  

Visit the Lexitus website


Lexsitus resources

Lexsitus integrates – visually and functionally – access to lectures, commentary, case law, preparatory works, and digests. It does so by offering access to the following resources, at the level of each article and main provision of the Rome Statute of the International Criminal Court (ICC):

  1. 234 subtitled lectures by a Lexsitus Faculty of 50 experts from all regions, with transcripts of every lecture available as full-text searchable PDF-files. The files have persistent URLs in the Legal Tools Database so they can safely be cited and hyperlinked to without risk of broken links. There are both introductory and advanced lectures, with the possibility to add more lectures in the coming months and years.
  2. A commentary made up of 915 separate comments by 58 lawyers, with legal sources hyperlinked and immediately accessible. The Chief Editor is Associate Professor Mark Klamberg (Stockholm University). The team is working to expand the commentary in Lexsitus to also cover the ICC Rules of Procedure and Evidence and the ICC Regulations.
  3. All relevant decisions in core international crimes cases before international criminal jurisdictions are immediately accessible under the corresponding article of the ICC Statute.
  4. The preparatory works from the negotiations of the ICC Statute are also immediately available, sorted under the relevant articles of the ICC Statute.
  5. There are two digests that offer excerpts from several hundred international judgments on the elements of the crimes in the ICC Statute. Each element has one page in Lexsitus, showing the quotations for that element. There are more than 860 separate pages for individual elements of crime, in each of the two digests. The mental elements are also included.


Additional functions

Lexsitus also offers the possibilities to

  • establish a personal user account;
  • build an individual library of sources in Lexsitus;
  • search and download;
  • copy-and-paste quotations for individual drafting purposes; as well as
  • a user-friendly general audio-visual tutorial and specific guides for particular functions; 
  • audio-visual introductions by leaders in the field such as Prosecutors Serge Brammertz, Benjamin B. Ferencz, Richard J. Goldstone, and Mirna Goransky, Judges Marc Perrin de Brichambaut and LIU Daqun, Professors Morten Bergsmo and Narinder Singh, and Dr. Alexa Koenig; and
  • a system whereby each page of the above-listed resources in Lexsitus has a well-defined, self-explanatory and short persistent-URL, so that users can link very precisely to content in Lexsitus.

While Lexsitus offers a simple and intuitive interface, it is powered by 809,623 lines of coding, across 9,047 coding files.


Supporting three basic aspects of ICL work

In terms of work-processes, Lexsitus supports the retrieval of legal sources in international criminal law; interpretation or analysis of such legal sources; and the learning of international criminal law. This is illustrated by this wheel, which is offered as a symbol of open access to the ecosystem of legal information in international criminal law:

The creator of Lexsitus – Professor Morten Bergsmo (CILRAP’s Director) – remarks:

“With Lexsitus, the long-term investments by the ICC, the EU, Finland, Norway and others in open-access retrieval of legal sources in international criminal law have been supplemented by analysis- and learning-support services. Combined, they form a mature ecosystem of legal information. This impacts on the way we develop further capacity in, and work with, international criminal law”.


Wider implications

Professor Bergsmo also comments on possible wider implications of the launch of Lexsitus:

“In the coming months, we will also explore how this ecosystem affects ongoing discourses on access to justice and dissemination of international law. Lexsitus helps us to offer proper access to law, a precondition to efforts to improve access to justice. By disseminating all relevant legal sources in international criminal law in a free and immediate manner, it also contributes towards broadening the discourse community beyond mainly Western institutions and constituencies. We hope Lexsitus can be a catalyst for similar and better developments in other disciplines of international law”.

You may freely access Lexsitus here from your desk - or laptop. Questions, feedback or ideas on how Lexsitus could be further developed should be addressed to