Learning About International Justice on the Ground—The Balkans & War Crimes (Part I)

By Belinda Cooper and Jennifer Trahan

Students of international affairs or international law can learn about the field of international justice through textbooks, films, discussions and lectures in the classroom, but an additional depth of understanding comes from traveling to the locations where crimes occurred, observing tribunals adjudicating those crimes, and meeting in the field with court officials, NGOs and victims.

Each year, we lead a group of master’s degree students from NYU’s Center for Global Affairs on a trip to The Hague, Bosnia, and Serbia to learn about war crimes prosecutions and issues surrounding international and transitional justice. We both work in the international justice field, and over the course of years have built up networks of contacts in both The Hague and the Balkans region; we are thus able to introduce students to a broad variety of actors and institutions and thereby expose them very directly to the controversies and pitfalls, as well as successes, of international and transitional justice.

THE HAGUE

While still in New York, we hold a number of class sessions that provide basic background on the wars in the former Yugoslavia and the ways in which judicial systems and societies deal with the aftermath of mass atrocity crimes. But the trip really begins in The Hague, which puts us on the doorstep of international institutions, even in the literal sense: our hotel is next door to the International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia (ICTY). That tribunal has been the focus of our Hague visit, but we also bring students to the International Criminal Court (ICC) and on occasion the Special Tribunal for Lebanon.

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International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia

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NYU Group at the Peace Palace

To provide some insight into the history of the movement for international justice, we spend some time at Andrew Carnegie’s imposing Peace Palace, the home of the International Court of Justice and the Permanent Court of Arbitration. Whenever possible, we sit in on trials at the ICTY and ICC; in past years, student have had the chance to view the Karadžić and Mladić trials, Haradinaj, Bemba, and others. Sitting barely feet away from accused war criminals and hearing lawyers, judges and witnesses speak brings home the drama—and sometimes the tedium—of international criminal trials.

In addition, we organize substantive meetings with a wide variety of people involved in the courtroom process: these include the various offices of the ICTY (prosecution, defense, judges, outreach, registry) and the ICC, as well as journalists covering the tribunals. Highlights of past years have included ICTY Judge Theodore Meron, ICC Judge Hans-Peter Kaul, Karadžić defense advisor Peter Robinson, SENSE news chief Mirko Klarin, and many others. Sometimes serendipity takes a hand: this year, the chief prosecutor of the ICTY, Serge Brammertz, passed our students as they waited to enter the building and began a conversation with them. At these meetings, students gain insight into the mechanisms of international justice, and profit from speaking directly to people involved every day in the nitty-gritty of preparing and carrying out trials of major war criminals.

The impression they receive is an understandably positive one of successful, if not always perfect, institutions staffed by dedicated, skilled, and often idealistic professionals. But questions about the efficacy of the tribunals on the ground in former Yugoslavia already arise in our discussions about the ICTY’s reception in the region, its outreach program, and its perceived legacy. These concerns increase in immediacy and intensity once we arrive in the region, and they become a central focus of our discussions.   (To read more, see Part II.)

Go On! ICTY Open Day in The Hague this Sunday, 20 September   

This Sunday, 20 September 2015, the International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia (ICTY) will host its Annual International Open Day as part of The Hague International Day.

At the Open Day, there will be opportunities to interact with ICTY Judges and other key staff members, view documentaries produced by the ICTY Outreach Programme, learn about the Mechanism for International Criminal Tribunals (MICT) and explore exhibitions and material from the ICTY Archives. Events will take place from 11:00 to 17:00.

Location: ICTY Main Building, Churchillplein 1, 2517 JW Den Haag

Speakers (with Q&A sessions) for the day include:

  • Judge Carmel Agius, ICTY Vice-President
  • Judge Christoph Flügge
  • Judge Alphons Orie 
  • Michelle Jarvis, Principal Legal Counsel (Deputy to the Prosecutor and Head of Appeals)
  • Bob Reid, OTP Chief of Operations
  • Martine Durocher, Chambers Legal Officer

To register, please visit https://www.evite-sendmail.nl/gem_dh/opend15/web/opend15_aanmelden_zndr_uit_en.php  or contact Alexa Magee (magee [at] un.org) for an event programme.

On the Job! Residual Special Court for Sierra Leone Legal Officer (P-3), The Hague (deadline 17 May)

The vacancy for a RSCSL P-3 Legal Officer in The Hague has been recirculated. The deadline is now 17 May 2015.

ORGANISATIONAL SETTING

The Residual Special Court for Sierra Leone (RSCSL) is the successor Institution to the Special Court for Sierra Leone (SCSL) with the responsibility for discharging the judicial, legal and administrative obligations that remain after the closure of the SCSL.

DUTIES AND RESPONSIBILITIES:

Under the direct supervision of the Registrar, and within limits of delegated authority, the Legal Officer will carry out the following functions:

  • Provide legal advice on matters relating to the exercise of the functions of the Registrar including (a) matters relating to suspects, accused and convicted persons; (b) matters relating to RSCSL proceedings (c) matters relating to witnesses and victims; (d) matters relating to host countries, other governments, non-governmental organizations, and international organizations; (e) matters relating to the press and public and (f) matters relating to agreements and contracts to which the Residual Special Court is a party.
  • Provide assistance with negotiations and drafting of bilateral agreements between the Residual Special Court and other entities.
  • Provide assistance with drafting and reviewing of amendments to the Rules of Procedure and Evidence, the Rules of Detention, Practice Directions and other legal instruments applicable to the Residual Special Court for Sierra Leone.
  • Draft written submissions and assist with the preparation of oral submissions before the RSCSL on matters relating to the Registrar’s functions.
  • Conduct research and draft legal and other correspondence and memoranda.
  • Monitor motions submitted by the parties, and decisions, orders and judgments rendered by the RSCSL

    in judicial or other proceedings before the Court.

  • Perform other duties as assigned by the Registrar.

    The post is located in The Residual Special Court for Sierra Leone. Staff members of The Residual Court will not serve as staff members of the United Nations. External appointments are limited to the Residual Special Court only. In accordance with Article 25 of the Statute of the Residual Special Court for Sierra Leone the working language will be English.

    1. Both internal and external applicants are requested to send a detailed curriculum vitae including date of birth, nationality, educational qualifications, a summary of professional skills and/or expertise, a summary of relevant work experience, publications written and languages spoken, and to complete a Residual Special Court Personal History Form available upon request from stanleyj@un.org (please type “Request for Personal History Form” in the subject heading).

    2. All Applications should be sent by mail to: Office Manager, Residual Special Court for Sierra Leone Churchillplein 1, 2517 JW, The Hague Or by Email to: stanleyj@un.org

    3. Acknowledgement will be made only to shortlisted candidates

    For more information, please see http://www.rscsl.org/Vacancies/RSCSL-2015-002.pdf.

On the Job! Head of Rule of Law Program, The Hague Institute for Global Justice

The Hague Institute for Global Justice has a vacancy for Head of the Rule of Law Program. The Head will be responsible for the overall management, development and execution of the Rule of Law program.

The Hague Institute for Global Justice is an independent, nonpartisan organization established to conduct interdisciplinary policy-relevant research, develop practitioner tools, and convene experts, practitioners and policymakers to facilitate knowledge sharing. Through this work the Institute aims to contribute to, and further strengthen, the global framework for preventing and resolving conflict and promoting international peace.

For more information, see the job posting here: http://thehagueinstituteforglobaljustice.org/cp/uploads/downloadsnieuws/20141211-Head-ROL-PROGRAM.pdf

Write On! Call for Papers: ‘Human Rights and Justice,’ Hague Institute for Global Justice (deadline 14 Nov.)

The human rights sections of the International Studies Association, the American Political Science Association, the European Consortium for Political Research, and the International Political Science Association are pleased to announce the fourth joint international conference on human rights, on the theme “Human Rights and Justice,” to take place 8 – 10 June 2015 at The Hague Institute for Global Justice. The conference will take place immediately before the annual meeting of the Academic Council on the United Nations System (11 – 13 June), also in The Hague.

This joint conference will ask researchers and policymakers from academia, think tanks, IOs and NGOs to deal with various aspects of justice and human rights. Papers should highlight how and to what extent human rights in all aspects and levels of governance, law and decision making allow or deny access to justice. This may include questions regarding whether and to what extent the international human rights regime can address adequately the challenges of human rights implementation and justice, as well as how regional, national, and local mechanisms may address human rights challenges. Paper and panel proposals that also address the issues such as climate justice, transitional justice or cyber justice as well as access to justice and global distributive justice are welcome. Some of the questions to be addressed at the conference include:

  • Are human rights and justice always compatible?
  • How do we conceptualize the relationship between human rights and justice?
  • What role does global distributive justice play in advancing human rights?
  • How do we ensure that domestic justice systems address a wide range of human rights issues?
  • Are international justice institutions (e.g. International Criminal Court, European Court of Human Rights, Inter-American Court, African Court on Human and People’s Rights) adequate for addressing human rights issues?
  • How have norms regarding justice and human rights evolved?

Submissions will open shortly. Please note that proposals must relate to the theme of the conference in some manner to be considered. Each full panel proposal should include exactly four papers plus a chair and discussant.

The deadline for submissions is 14 November 2014. Notification of acceptances will be sent by e-mail by 20 December 2014.

For more information, visit: http://global-human-rights.org/HRJ.html

On the Job! FIDH is hiring its Representative to the International Criminal Court (deadline 14 October)

The International Federation for Human Rights (FIDH) is hiring its representative to the International Criminal Court. Application deadline is 14 October. For details of the position and how to apply, visit http://www.fidh.org/en/what-is-fidh/recruitment/16053-fidh-is-hiring-its-representative-to-the-international-criminal-court.

Go On! Advocacy and Litigation Training Course, Leiden University, The Hague

The Grotius Centre for International Legal Studies (Leiden University) welcomes registrations for its Advocacy and Litigation training course, which will be held in The Hague from 24 November to 28 November 2014. The training is open to law students and professionals who consider a career in international criminal litigation or who simply wish to develop or improve their advocacy skills. Participants will be trained in case theory, opening statements, direct examination (examination-in-chief), cross-examination, re-examination, closing statements and legal submissions skills through role play and challenging exercises. The course will be concluded with a mock trial at the end of the week.

The training will be given by Zafar Ali QC, a highly experienced defence lawyer who is on the list of Defence Counsel at the International Criminal Court. He has also been selected as Lead Defence Counsel at the UN Special Tribunal for Lebanon in The Hague.  Zafar Ali will be assisted by Nathan Rasiah, who has worked on a number of high profile cases involving military and political leaders charged before international criminal tribunals.

The Grotius Centre also arranges visits to the ICC and the Special Tribunal for Lebanon, welcome drinks and a course dinner. Participants will be awarded a certificate of participation. For details please check the course website.