Experts to gather March 8 for journal conference, “International Criminal Court and the Community of Nations”

This International Women’s Day, Friday, March 8, 2019, experts will gather here in Athens for a conference entitled “The International Criminal Court and the Community of Nations.”  Featured will be panels on the ICC’s relation to various constituent communities, as well as a video message from the ICC Prosecutor, Fatou Bensouda.

Principal sponsors of this University of Georgia School of Law conference are the Georgia Journal of International & Comparative Law and the Dean Rusk International Law Center, which I am honored to serve as a Faculty Co-Director. I’m pleased to serve as faculty adviser for this conference, given my ongoing role as Special Adviser to Prosecutor Bensouda on Children in & affected by Armed Conflict, and also to be joined at this conference by her Special Adviser on Crimes Against Humanity, Leila Nadya Sadat.

The conference concept note begins with a quote from the Preamble of the 1998 Rome Statute of the International Criminal Court, whose Hague headquarters of which are depicted above. In it, states parties “[r]esolved to guarantee lasting respect for and the enforcement of international justice.” The concept note continues:

“Across the globe, resurgent nationalisms place stress on institutions designed to promote human and collective security through international cooperation. Critiques – even, at times, outright denunciations – compel such institutions to re-examine, in a process that poses challenges yet also portends opportunities for renewal. The dynamic surely affects the International Criminal Court. In the last several months alone, states as varied as Burundi, the Philippines, and the United States have levied harsh criticism against this twenty-year-old justice institution, established in recognition that “children, women and men have been victims of unimaginable atrocities” that “threaten the peace, security and well-being of the world.” In the same time frame, the ICC Prosecutor welcomed a multistate referral of alleged crimes in Venezuela and launched a preliminary examination into alleged forced deportation in Myanmar, and the Court as a whole continued complementary efforts to strengthen national and regional prevention and accountability. It did so within legal, geopolitical, and budgetary constraints imposed by a trio of stakeholder communities.

“Experts from academia and the practice will cast a critical eye on ‘The International Criminal Court and the Community of Nations’; that is, on the place of the ICC vis-à-vis communities of states parties, nonparty states, and nonstate stakeholders, as well as inherited communities. Presentations will be published in the Georgia Journal of International and Comparative Law.”

Here’s the schedule:

8:45-9:00 Welcome

Dean Peter B. “Bo” Rutledge University of Georgia School of Law

9:00-10:30  Community of States Parties

Diane Desierto University of Notre Dame Keogh School of Global Affairs ǀ The Philippines and the International Criminal Court: Withdrawal from the Rome Statute and the War on Drugs

Mark Kersten Wayamo Foundation, University of Toronto Munk School of Global Affairs ǀ On the Road to Compromise? African States and the International Criminal Court

Naomi Roht-Arriaza University of California Hastings College of the Law ǀ The Role of the Court in Latin America

Leila Nadya Sadat Washington University School of Law ǀ States Parties and the Shifting Sands of the Court’s Jurisprudence

David Tolbert Duke University Sanford School of Policy ǀ A Look Back, Learning from the Experiences of the Ad Hoc Tribunals: What Lessons for the ICC?

Moderator ǀ Kathleen A. Doty University of Georgia School of Law

11:00-12:30  Community of Nonstate Stakeholders

Tess Davis Antiquities Coalition ǀ Cultural Heritage as an International Criminal Court Stakeholder

Christopher Engels Commission for International Justice & Accountability ǀ Private Investigations, Public Partnerships—Supporting International Criminal Prosecutions through Nongovernmental Organizations

Megan A. Fairlie Florida International University School of Law ǀ The International Criminal Court and the Community of Nonstate Stakeholders: Defense Issues

Valerie Oosterveld University of Western Ontario Faculty of Law ǀ Victims of Sexual and Gender-Based Violence as Stakeholders in the International Criminal Court: An Assessment

Peter Robinson Defense Counsel before International Criminal Court ǀ How the Defense Can Support the ICC

Moderator ǀ Melissa J. Durkee University of Georgia School of Law 

1:45-2:00  Video Remarks

Fatou Bensouda International Criminal Court Prosecutor

2:00-2:35  Inherited Communities

Diane Marie Amann University of Georgia School of Law ǀ What Would Maître Chalufour Say Today?

Mark A. Drumbl Washington & Lee University School of Law ǀ What Would Justice Pal Say Today?

2:45-3:45  Community of Nonparty States

Chimène Keitner University of California Hastings College of the Law ǀ International Institutions and the “Ideology of Patriotism”

Jane E. Stromseth Georgetown University Law Center ǀ The United States and the ICC: Why John Bolton’s Attack on the ICC Is Not in U.S. Interests

Saira Mohamed University of California Berkeley School of Law ǀ States Parties, Non-States Parties, and the Idea of International Community

Moderator ǀ Harlan G. Cohen University of Georgia School of Law

3:50-4:00  Closing Remarks

Morgan Renee Thomas Editor-in-Chief, Georgia Journal of International and Comparative Law

Registration, for CLE credit, and other details here. Additional cosponsors include the International Law Society, Georgia Law’s chapter of the the International Law Students Association, along with SPIA, the University of Georgia School of Public & International Affairs.

Drawing links between initiatives to increase protection of children during armed conflict & similar violence


“‘Protecting Children’: A Welcome Addition to Efforts to Redress Wartime Harms,” an essay I published yesterday at Just Security, underscores connections among a number of recent initiatives related to children and armed conflict.

The essay welcomes Protecting Children in Armed Conflict (Hart Publishing 2018), the 600-page report of the 2017 Inquiry on Protecting Children in Armed Conflict spearheaded by Gordon Brown, former British Prime Minister and current UN Special Envoy for Global Education. (I served on the Inquiry’s Advisory Panel.)

Leading a team of researchers was Shaheed Fatima QC, a barrister at London’s Blackstone Chambers, who spoke on this work at the International Law Weekend panel last month. (prior post here) My Just Security essay offers a detailed description and favorable critique of this research, noting the work’s connections with what the UN Security Council terms the “Six Grave Violations against Children in Armed Conflict.”

The essay further draws links between this work and the 2016 International Criminal Court Office of the Prosecutor Policy on Children, which I had the honor of helping to prepare in my ongoing service as ICC Prosecutor Fatou Bensouda’s Special Adviser on Children in & affected by Armed Conflict. (prior post here) The essay points to “the complementary potential of these and other initiatives,” and concludes:

Together, they may advance two essential goals: first, to articulate norms prohibiting wartime harms against children; and second, to secure redress for any such harms that occur.

My Just Security essay is here. It is part of a miniforum which began with a post last week jointly authored by Fatima and Brown, available here. The Just Security series will continue with forthcoming posts by Sarah Knuckey (Columbia Law), Alex Moorehead (Columbia Law), and Alex Whiting (Harvard Law).

(Cross-posted from Diane Marie Amann)

Accountability for harms to children during armed conflict discussed at Center-sponsored ILW panel

NEW YORK – Ways to redress offenses against children during armed conflict formed the core of the panel that our University of Georgia School of Law Dean Rusk International Law Center sponsored last Friday at International Law Weekend, an annual three-day conference presented by the American Branch of the International Law Association and the International Law Students Association. I was honored to take part.

► Opening our panel was Shaheed Fatima QC (top right), a barrister at Blackstone Chambers in London, who led a panel of researchers for the Inquiry on Protecting Children in Conflict, an initiative chaired by Gordon Brown, former United Kingdom Prime Minister and current UN Special Envoy for Global Education.

As Fatima explained, the Inquiry focused on harms that the UN Security Council has identified as “six grave violations” against children in conflict; specifically, killing and maiming; recruitment or use as soldiers; sexual violence; abduction; attacks against schools or hospitals; and denial of humanitarian access. With regard to each, the Inquiry identified legal frameworks in international criminal law, international humanitarian law, and international human rights law. It proposed a new means for redress: promulgation of a “single instrument” that would permit individual communications, for an expressed set of violations, to the Committee on the Rights of the Child, the treaty body that monitors compliance with the Convention on the Rights of the Child and its three optional protocols. These findings and recommendations have just been published as Protecting Children in Armed Conflict (Hart 2018).

► Next, Mara Redlich Revkin (2d from left), a Ph.D. Candidate in Political Science at Yale University and Lead Researcher on Iraq and Syria for the United Nations University Project on Children and Extreme Violence.

She drew from her fieldwork to provide a thick description of children’s experiences in regions controlled by the Islamic State, an armed group devoted to state-building – “rebel governance,” as Revkin termed it. Because the IS sees children as its future, she said, it makes population growth a priority, and exercises its control over schools and other “sites for the weaponization of children.” Children who manage to free themselves from the group encounter new problems on account of states’ responses, responses that Revkin has found often to be at odds with public opinion. These range from the  harsh punishment of every child once associated with IS, without considering the extent of that association, to the rejection of IS-issued birth certificates, thus rendering a child stateless.

► Then came yours truly, Diane Marie Amann (left), Emily & Ernest Woodruff Chair in International Law here at the University of Georgia School of Law and our Center’s Faculty Co-Director. I served as a member of the Inquiry’s Advisory Board.

Discussing my service as the Special Adviser to the Prosecutor of the International Criminal Court on Children in and affected by Armed Conflict, I focused on the preparation and contents of the 2016 ICC OTP Policy on Children, available here in Arabic, English, French, Spanish, and Swahili. The Policy pinpoints the crimes against and affecting children that may be punished pursuant to the Rome Statute of the International Criminal Court, and it further delineates a “child-sensitive approach” to OTP work at all stages, including investigation, charging, prosecution, and witness protection.

► Summing up the conversation was Harold Hongju Koh (2d from right), Sterling Professor of International Law at Yale Law School and former Legal Adviser to the U.S. Department of State, who served as a consultant to the Inquiry.

Together, he said, the presentations comprised “5 I’s: Inquiry, Iraq and Syria, the ICC, and” – evoking the theme of the conference – “international law and why it matters.” Koh lauded the Inquiry’s report as “agenda-setting,” and its proposal for a means to civil redress as a “panda’s thumb” response that bears serious consideration. Koh envisaged that in some future administration the United States – the only country in the world not to have ratified the Convention on the Rights of the Child – might come to ratify the proposed new  protocol, as it has the optional protocols relating to children in armed conflict and the sale of children.

The panel thus trained attention on the harms children experience amid conflict and called for redoubled efforts to secure accountability and compensation for such harms.

(Cross-posted from Diane Marie Amann)

Global Governance Summer School: Hague briefings begin with International Criminal Court

THE HAGUE – Our 2018 Global Governance Summer School has moved to this Dutch capital for several days of briefings at international organizations devoted to securing accountability and reparations for violations of international law. Today centered on the International Criminal Court, a permanent organization that began operating at The Hague in 2002. Its founding charter, the Rome Statute of the ICC, was adopted 20 years ago this month.

Our Georgia Law students, who spent last week at the Leuven Centre for Global Governance Studies, first visited Leiden Law School‘s Hague campus, where two international lawyers – Niamh Hayes and Leiden Law Professor Joe Powderly – talked with them about a range of issues (left). These included the development of international criminal law, practical and academic career opportunities for young lawyers interested in the area, and the advantages gained by working in The Hague on the “inside” of international criminal law issues.

The rest of the day was spent at the ICC’s Permanent Premises, located on the dunes near The Hague’s North Sea coast. Highlights of the visit included:

► A meeting with Prosecutor Fatou Bensouda (top), for whom our summer school’s co-director, Georgia Law Professor Diane Marie Amann, serves as Special Adviser on Children in & affected by Armed Conflict. Bensouda described her own path to practicing international criminal law. While acknowledging the barriers to achieving justice, she expressed the urgency of continuing the effort, on behalf of global society as well as the victims of international crimes.

► An audience with Judge Geoffrey A. Henderson (left) of Trinidad and Tobago, who was elected to the ICC in 2013 and serves in the Trial Division. Henderson emphasized the challenges of judging in a context that brings together the civil and common law systems, and offered encouragement that engaged students can change the world.

► A presentation on the work of lawyers in the court’s Registry from Elizabeth Little, Special Assistant to the Registrar, Special Assistant to the Registrar, and an overview of the court’s work from ensuring the right to family life of the accused to assisting the indigent select defense counsel.

Together, these presentations made for an informative and inspiring day in court.

Professor Amann publishes “Bemba and Beyond,” on accountability and command responsibility, at EJIL: Talk!

One week after the International Criminal Court Appeals Chamber acquitted a Congolese politician-warlord whom a Trial Chamber unanimously had convicted of rape, pillage, and other crimes, practitioners and scholars continue to debate the decision’s significance. Indeed, the case, Prosecutor v. Bemba, has been invoked in both the papers so far presented at the 2-day ICC Scholars Forum now under way at Leiden Law School’s Hague campus.

My own initial thoughts – concerned not about the decision’s fact-based details but rather to its refashioning of the legal doctrine of command responsibility – have been published at EJIL: Talk!, the blog of the European Journal of International Law. My post, entitled “In Bemba and Beyond,” discusses command responsibility as “a time-honored doctrine with roots in military justice and international humanitarian law.” Placing this appeals judgment in the context of other decisions, the post warns:

“Together, such rulings suggest a turn away from the goal of assigning responsibility at high levels, and toward a jurisprudence which acknowledges (with regret) the commission of crimes, yet holds no cognizable legal person responsible.”

Full post here.

(Cross-posted from Diane Marie Amann)

Professor Cohen’s AJIL essay on “Multilateralism’s Life-Cycle” at SSRN

Harlan Grant Cohen, the Gabriel M. Wilner/UGA Foundation Professor in International Law and Faculty Co-Director of our Dean Rusk International Law Center at the University of Georgia School of Law, has posted a chapter entitled “Multilateralism’s Life-Cycle,” which will appear in a forthcoming issue of volume 112 of the American Journal of International Law.

The manuscript, which forms part of our Dean Rusk International Law Center Research Paper Series at SSRN, may be downloaded at this SSRN link.

Here’s the abstract for this essay by Professor Cohen, an expert in global governance and member of the AJIL Board of Editors:

Does multilateralism have a life-cycle? Perhaps paradoxically, this essay suggests that current pressures on multilateralism and multilateral institutions, including threatened withdrawals by the United Kingdom from the European Union, the United States from the Paris climate change agreement, South Africa, Burundi, and Gambia from the International Criminal Court, and others, may be natural symptoms of those institutions’ relative success. Successful multilateralism and multilateral institutions, this essay argues, has four intertwined effects, which together, make continued multilateralism more difficult: (1) the wider dispersion of wealth or power among members, (2) the decreasing value for members of issue linkages, (3) changing assessment of multilateral institutions’ value in the face of increased effectiveness, and (4) members’ increased focus on relative or positional gains over absolute ones. Exploring how each of these manifests in the world today, this essay suggests that current stresses on multilateralism may best be understood as the natural growing pains of an increasingly mature set of institutions. The open question going forward is what form the next stage of development will take. Will strategies of multilateralism continue or will they be replaced by smaller clubs and more local approaches?

International lawyer Christine Keller, our Center’s new Associate Director for Global Practice Preparation

KellerWe’ve just welcomed a new international lawyer to the Dean Rusk International Law Center at the University of Georgia School of Law: Christine Keller, our new Associate Director for Global Practice Preparation.

In that position, she’ll enhance our 40-year-old Center’s mission by developing and administering global practice preparation initiatives,  including: the Global Governance Summer School we host in the Netherlands and Belgium, in partnership with the Leuven Centre for Global Governance Studies, University of Leuven; our Global Externships Overseas and At-Home; academic-year events programming and support; communications; and research initiatives.

It’s a bit of a homecoming for Christine, who was an undergraduate at the University of Georgia – she earned her A.B. in Political Science with honors, and was a member of the university’s NCAA champion women’s swim team. She also holds an LL.M. from Harvard Law School (with a focus on international criminal law), a J.D. from the Santa Clara University School of Law (where she was a member of the Jessup International Moot Court team and a Justice John Paul Stevens Public Interest Fellow), and an M.A. in International Policy Studies from Stanford University.

She comes to us from The Hague in the Netherlands, where for the last decade she has practiced international criminal law. At the United Nations International Criminal Tribunal for the Former Yugoslavia, her positions included: Associate Legal Officer and then a Legal Officer in Chambers, working on the Tolimir and Karadžić cases and leading a team of attorneys on an aspect of the Prlić appeal. Before that, she worked as an Assistant Legal Officer to two successive judges of Pre-Trial Chamber I of the International Criminal Court. She also provided research and drafting assistance in the Office of the Prosecutor, on cases including Al Bashir and issues including victim participation. She also has worked at a San Francisco nongovernmental organization, the Center for Justice and Accountability, on topics such as European universal jurisdiction, human rights violations in Guatemala and Somalia, and the Alien Tort Statute.

Christine has studied abroad in Germany and El Salvador, is proficient in French, and has a working knowledge of Spanish.

We’re delighted to welcome her!

Hague briefings at ICC, Iran-U.S. Claims Tribunal and ICJ launch 2017 Global Governance Summer School

At the Iran-U.S. Claims Tribunal, front from left: Ana Morales Ramos, Legal Adviser; Hossein Piran, Senior Legal Adviser; Kathleen A. Doty, Interim Director, Dean Rusk International Law Center; David Caron, Tribunal Member; and Georgia Law Associate Dean Diane Marie Amann. Back row, students Nicholas Duffey, Lyddy O’Brien, Brian Griffin, Wade Herring, Jennifer Cotton, Evans Horsley, Casey Callaghan, Kristopher Kolb, Nils Okeson, James Cox, and Ezra Thompson.

HAGUE – Briefings at key international law institutions here have highlighted the initial leg of the Global Governance Summer School led by the University of Georgia School of Law Dean Rusk International Law Center.

Our students’ journey began with a visit yesterday to the International Criminal Court Permanent Premises (left), a tile-and-ivy structure, located in dunelands not far from the North Sea, that opened just 18 months ago. Accompanying them were Associate Dean Diane Marie Amann and our Center’s Interim Director, Kathleen A. Doty, both of whom will lecture at the summer school next week.

Outlining the work of the Office of the Prosecutor were the Prosecutor’s Senior Legal Adviser, Shamila Batohi, and Legal Assistant, Annie O’Reilly (right), with whom Associate Dean Amann works in her capacity as the Prosecutor’s Special Adviser on Children in and affected by Armed Conflict. Topics included case selection and specific cases, complementarity and state cooperation, and the role of the prosecution in relation to other organs of the court.

Then Leiden Law Professor Dov Jacobs, a Legal Assistant in Defense at the ICC and member of the defense team for Laurent Gbagbo, the former Ivoirian President now on trial before the court. Shifting from the theoretical to the practical and back again, he spoke about the nature and challenges of international criminal justice, particularly as it relates to the defense function before contemporary bodies like the ICC.

The journey continued today with a morning briefing at the Iran-U.S. Claims Tribunal, an international organization established by treaty 36 years ago as a means to settle disputes arising out of the 1979 takeover of the U.S. Embassy in Tehran. It comprises 3 Americans, 3 Iranians, and three members from other countries. Offering a fascinating dialogue on the history and operations of the tribunal were Dr. David Caron, a U.S. member of the tribunaland an international law professor at Kings College London, and Dr. Hossein Piran, Senior Legal Adviser at the tribunal.

(It was a treat to learn that one of Dr. Piran’s professors was the late Gabriel N. Wilner, who founded our European summer study abroad during his long tenure on the Georgia Law faculty. Holding the professorship named after Wilner is Georgia Law Professor Harlan Cohen, who will lecture in this summer school next week, along with Leuven Law Professor Jan Wouters and others.)

The afternoon brought us to the Hague’s Vredepalais (left), or Peace Palace, built in the early 1900s to house international institutions that would foster pacific, rather than warlike, settlements of disputes.

Leading discussion on one of those institutions, the International Court of Justice set up under the 1945 Charter of the United Nations, was Dr. Xavier-Baptiste Ruedin (right), Legal Adviser for Judge Joan E. Donoghue. Topics ranged from provisional measures, like those recently issued in a case involving India and Pakistan, to jurisdiction via advisory opinion (including one soon to arrive at the court, following yesterday’s U.N. General Assembly vote) or contentious case.

A question common to all 3 visits was the role of such institutions – and international law more generally – in the governance of global affairs. We’ll continue to seek answers next week, when our Global Governance Summer School moves to Belgium for classroom seminars and an experts conference with our partner institution, KU Leuven’s Leuven Centre for Global Governance Studies.

Georgia Law scholar quoted in EJIL: Talk! symposium on ICC, gender justice

politicsWhat a welcome surprise to read words I penned a few years ago quoted-within-a-quote in a post today at EJIL: Talk! To be precise, Washington & Lee Law Professor Mark Drumbl wrote:

“Gender justice initiatives at the ICC remain entwined with other advocacy movements. Notable in this regard is the push for children’s rights. The pairing of women’s rights with children’s rights – while perhaps seeming somewhat odd – does reflect the historical association, in Diane Marie Amann’s words (cited by Chappell), of ‘women and children as bystanders, beings not fully conscious of the world around them’ within the Grotian Weltanschauung.”

The quote, from my essay “The Post-Postcolonial Woman or Child,” appears in Drumbl’s contribution to a terrific EJIL: Talk! symposium analyzing The Politics of Gender Justice at the International Criminal Court (Oxford University Press 2015), an important book by Louise A. Chappell (below right), Professor and Australian Research Council Future Fellow, School of Social Sciences, University of New South Wales, Sydney, Australia.

chappellChappell (who, like Drumbl, is an IntLawGrrls contributor) traces her subject through chapters that “represent,” “recognize,” “redistribute,” and “complement” gender justice at the ICC, an institution that “nested” “gender advocacy,” as Drumbl puts it in his review, entitled “Gender Justice and International Criminal Law: Peeking and Peering Beyond Stereotypes.” He adds: “In short: her superb book is a must-read.”

Joining Drumbl in this symposium are:

► An opening post by EJIL: Talk! Associate Editor Helen McDermott, a post-doctoral Research Fellow in law and armed conflict in the Oxford Martin School Programme on Human Rights for Future Generations at the University of Oxford, England.

► An introduction by Chappell, who is due to close the conversation later this week (latter post now available here).

“Beyond a Recitation of Sexual Violence Provisions: A Mature Social Science Evaluation of the ICC” by Patricia Viseur Sellers, who serves as the International Criminal Court Prosecutor’s Special Adviser for Prosecution Strategies, is a Visiting Fellow at Kellogg College, Oxford University, and the former Legal Advisor for Gender and Acting Senior Trial Attorney at the International Criminal Tribunal for the Former Yugoslavia.

“Gender Justice Legacies at the ICC” by yet another IntLawGrrls contributor, Valerie Oosterveld, Associate Dean (Research and Graduate Studies), Associate Professor, and Deputy Director of the Centre for Transitional Justice and Post-Conflict Reconstruction, University of Western Ontario Faculty of Law, London, Ontario, Canada.

To crib from Drumbl’s post, the series is a must-read.

(Cross-posted from Diane Marie Amann)

ICC Prosecutor’s Policy on Children, an international criminal justice capstone

Children have become the unwilling emblems of armed conflict and extreme violence.

Searing images have surfaced in news stories, aid workers’ alerts, and rights groups’ dispatches: a 5 year old pulled from Aleppo rubble, orphans at a Goma children’s center, a young Colombian woman struggling to readjust after years as a child soldier, and, face down on a Turkish beach, a drowned 3-year-old refugee. Images of this nature were shown yesterday at the International Criminal Court, during the opening statement in Ongwen, with Prosecutor Fatou Bensouda herself warning “that some of these images are extremely disturbing.”

There is no better time than now to press for strategies both to combat such harms and to bring the persons responsible to justice. Presenting an important step toward those goals is the Policy on Children of the International Criminal Court Office of the Prosecutor.

fatou

Prosecutor Bensouda launched the Policy on Children at an event during last month’s meeting of the ICC Assembly of States Parties. Bensouda quoted from the U.N. expert Graça Machel’s pathbreaking 1996 report on children and armed conflict, then commented:

“[I]t is indeed unconscionable that we so clearly and consistently see children’s rights attacked and that we fail to defend them.
“It is unforgivable that children are assaulted, violated, murdered and yet our conscience is not revolted nor our sense of dignity challenged. This represents a fundamental crisis of our civilisation and a failure of our humanity.
“By adopting the Policy on Children, which we launch today, we at the Office of the Prosecutor seek to ensure that children suffering the gravest injustices are not ignored. That through the vector of the law, we do what we can to protect and advance the rights of children within the framework of the Rome Statute.”

Leading the event was journalist Zeinab Badawi. Among the many others who offered live or video interventions were: Mamadou Ismaël Konaté, Mali’s Minister of Justice and Human Rights of the Republic of Mali; Zeid Ra’ad Al Hussein, U.N. High Commissioner for Human Rights; Leila Zerrougui, Special Representative of the U.N. Secretary-General for Children and Armed Conflict; Angelina Jolie, Special Envoy of the U.N. High Commissioner for Refugees; Nobel Peace Prizewinner Leymah Gbowee; Lieutenant General Roméo-Dallaire, Founder of the Roméo Dallaire Child Soldiers Initiative (see also IntLawGrrls post by Kirsten Stefanik); Marc Dullaert, Founder of KidsRights and the Netherlands’ former Children’s Ombudsman; and Coumba Gawlo, U.N. Development Programme Goodwill Ambassador and National Goodwill Ambassador for the U.N. High Commissioner for Refugees.

screen2I am honored also to have offered brief remarks – and am especially honored to have assisted in the preparation of this Policy in my capacity as the Prosecutor’s Special Adviser on Children in & affected by Armed Conflict, working alongside a dedicated Office of the Prosecutor team led by Shamila Batohi, Gloria Atiba Davies, and Yayoi Yamaguchi. Preparation included experts’ gatherings at the University of Georgia School of Law Dean Rusk International Law Center, at Leiden Law School, and at the ICC itself, as well as consultations around the globe with young persons who had endured armed conflict. (Legal research produced by my students, in seminars on Children & International Law and through the work of the Georgia Law Project on Armed Conflict & Children, also was invaluable.)

The result is a Policy on Children spanning 47 pages, published simultaneously in Arabic, English, French, Spanish, and Swahili. Identifying children as persons under eighteen (paragraph 16), it covers a gamut of issues related to children and the work of the Prosecutor; for example, general policy, regulatory framework, and engagement with children at all stages of the proceedings. Among many other landmarks, the Policy:

► Embraces a child-sensitive approach grounded in the 1989 Convention on the Rights of the Child, a treaty ratified by every U.N. member state save one: the United States, which is also an ICC nonparty state. (My remarks happily noted that my other state of citizenship, the Republic of Ireland, is a state party to both the Child Rights Convention and the ICC’s Rome Statute.) Paragraph 22 of the Policy on Children thus states:

“In light of the foregoing, the Office will adopt a child-sensitive approach in all aspects of its work involving children. This approach appreciates the child as an individual person and recognises that, in a given context, a child may be vulnerable, capable, or both. The child-sensitive approach requires staff to take into account these vulnerabilities and capabilities. This approach is based on respect for children’s rights and is guided by the general principles of the 1989 Convention on the Rights of the Child: non-discrimination; the best interests of the child; the right to life, survival and development; and the right to express one’s views and have them considered.”

► Views children, like all human beings, as multi-faceted individuals and, simultaneously, as members of multi-generational communities. (See, for example, paragraph 100.) Paragraph 25 states:

“Children, by the very fact of their youth, are frequently more vulnerable than other persons; at certain ages and in certain circumstances, they are dependent on others. Notwithstanding any vulnerability and dependence, children possess and are continuously developing their own capacities – capacities to act, to choose and to participate in activities and decisions that affect them. The Office will remain mindful, in all aspects of its work, of the evolving capacities of the child.”

► Acknowledges in paragraph 17 “that most crimes under the Statute affect children in various ways, and that at times they are specifically targeted” – and then pledges that “the Office will, in order to capture the full extent of the harm suffered, seek to highlight the multi-faceted impact on children, at all stages of its work.” The regulatory framework thus enumerates a range of crimes against and affecting children:

  • recruitment and use by armed forces and armed groups of children under fifteen as war crimes (paragraphs 39-43);
  • forcible transfer of children and prevention of birth as acts of genocide (paragraphs 44-46);
  • trafficking of children as a form of enslavement constituting a crime against humanity (paragraphs 47-48);
  • attacks on buildings dedicated to education and health care as war crimes (paragraph 49);
  • torture and related war crimes and crimes against humanity (paragraph 50);
  • persecution as a crime against humanity (paragraph 50); and
  • sexual and gender-based violence as war crimes and crimes against humanity (paragraph 52).

► Details the Office’s plan for applying the child-sensitive approach, with respect both to all stages of proceedings, including preliminary examinations, investigations, and prosecutions, and to cooperation and external relations, institutional development, and implementation.

Even as cases involving crimes against and affecting children, like Ongwen, go forward, the Office is working on implementation of its new Policy on Children. The implementation phase will include developing versions of the Policy accessible to children. I’m looking forward to the opportunity to contribute this phase – and to hearing others’ views on the Policy.

(Cross-posted from Diane Marie Amann)