Sunday, August 26, 2012

As prosecutors gather, thought on ICC & Arab world

The 6th International Humanitarian Law Dialogs, the annual gathering of international prosecutors and others that IntLawGrrls is proud to cosponsor,  kicks off today at the Chautaqua Institution in upstate New York.  A screening of IntLawGrrl Pamela Yates' Granito is the 1st event; rich dialogs with a host of prosecutors begins tomorrow, as detailed in the IHL Dialogs program.
Happy to announce that even if you can't make it to lovely Lake Chautauqua, you can watch many events tomorrow and Tuesday live via webcast here.
This year's theme is "Hybrid International Courts: A Tenth Anniversary Retrospective on the Special
Court for Sierra Leone." Nevertheless, many other issues swirling about the field of international criminal justice are sure to be discussed – among them, ongoing violence in Syria and repeated calls for an calls for an International Criminal Court-Syria referral, most recently from French President  François Hollande, just 2 days ago.
It's in that context that this passage jumped out:
'While the Arab countries are going through internal political and social upheavals and, in some cases, brutal armed conflicts, it is to be hoped that the ICC will reconsider its policy and put in place a clear strategy in relation to national judicial capacity building, an undertaking which is not currently a component of its work. This strategy should also contain an element that would lead the court to be perceived as a deterrent to stop the waves of bloodshed that have occurred so far in certain countries.
'The new emerging regimes and all others in the Arab countries witnessing political changes should consider ratifying the Rome Statute and building professional relationships between their representatives and the staff of the court. As we all know, international justice is costly. Through their contribution to the court’s budget and their use of the ICC national judicial capacity building project, Arab governments would be able to assist in the development of their own independent judicial capacities.'
So wrote Mohamed A. Lejmi, Senior Diplomatic Advisor for the Office of the Prosecutor at the Hague-based Special Tribunal for Lebanon, in an August 17 Tunisia Live op-ed entitled "A New Generation of International Prosecutors Brings New Challenges."
Lejmi began by making the important point that post-Cold War international criminal justice has matured to the extent that the Prosecutor of nearly every tribunal is now a person with significant international as well as national criminal justice experience – as he puts it, a person who has
'learned to function effectively within the blended common law/civil law regime that is characteristic of the international criminal justice system.'
(As detailed in the IHL Dialogs program, among the "new generation" of chief prosecutors named in Lejmi's op-ed and scheduled to take part in this week's IHL Dialogs are: Fatou Bensouda of the ICC, Serge Brammertz of the ICTY, and Brenda J. Hollis of the Special Court for Sierra Leone. They'll be joined by 2 others in this "generation," Robert Petit, formerly of the Extraordinary Chambers in the Courts of Cambodia and now at the Canadian Department of Justice, and Stephen Rapp, formerly of the Sierra Leone special court and now U.S. Ambassador for Global Justice, along with many other practitioners and academics. IntLawGrrls' own Leila Nadya Sadat will deliver the 2d Annual Katherine B. Fite Lecture.)
Lejmi's op-ed views this transformation in prosecutorial staffing, coupled with ongoing political change in the Arab world, as an opening for an effort to re-engage that region.

Today, of the Arab League's 22 member states, only 4 belong to the ICC: Comoros, Djibouti, Jordan, and Tunisia. (credit for map showing member states in dark green; all others are nonparties, with those in gray having neither signed nor ratified the Rome Statute) 
Via U.N. Security Council referrals, 2 additional Arab League states – Libya and Sudan, both nonparties – are both sites of ICC situations. (credit for map showing ICC situations in light green) And, as Hollande's coments this weekend indicate, calls continue for a 3d such referral, of the situation in ICC nonparty state Syria. (See too here.)
Against this backdrop, Lejmi's op-ed urges Arab states to ratify the Rome Statute of the ICC, to cooperate with international criminal justice mechanisms, and to contribute financially to the global criminal justice project. In exchange, he asks the ICC, in particular, to aid development of the rule of law in the region.
His mutual-assistance proposal strikes this 'Grrl as far more promising than another, unfortunate one, involving establishment of yet another tribunal, that another lawyer bruited about earlier this year.
Looking forward to hearing these issues, and many others, discussed at this year's IHL Dialogs.

No comments: