Engaging Students: A Conversation with Luis Moreno-Ocampo, Chief Prosecutor of the ICC
Universities and research centers are an important segment of the nonprofit sector. Students, teachers, and researchers at these NGOs provide unique resources, expertise and mobilization support for many human rights and justice efforts. Strengthening relationships with these groups is a key priority for the ICC’s Office of the Prosecutor (OTP) over the next three years.
In preparation for the Consultative Conference on International Criminal Justice to be held in September at the United Nations in New York, a planning meeting was held in May 2009 in which Hauser Center staff interviewed Luis Moreno-Ocampo, the Prosecutor of the International Criminal Court and two graduate students at Harvard University on student engagement, the preparatory session, and the September conference.
Johanna Chao Kreilick – Hauser Center: One of the OTP’s stated objectives is deepening cooperation with different constituencies, including academic scholars, researchers, students, and student networks. How do you envision the future of these partnerships?
Luis Moreno-Ocampo – ICC Prosecutor: The OTP is now consolidating its policies in a number of areas, including how the Prosecutor engages in “positive complementarity” — working with national states to help them strengthen their domestic judicial systems. We are now presenting our policy documents publically to solicit feedback from professors, researchers, and others who can discuss, and ultimately provide very important commentary on our work.
This exchange will allow the OTP to be clearer about our policies: how we respect complimentarity, how we select cases, how we collect evidence, how we choose individuals to prosecute and identify who is most responsible, how we analyze the tiers of responsibility, how we respect disclosure obligations, how we treat gender crimes, how we respect the victims, and so on.
All of these issues will be addressed in the form of policy papers. For me it is important to show the world the details of these processes in order to both receive feedback and increase cooperation
The second step revolves around education and working with different professors around the world. I am in contact with professors in Australia, China, Congo, and institutions like Harvard to begin conversations about how to teach about the Court and organize, for example, video exchanges in the classroom to learn about justice issues in the global context.
After we finish the first trial, we will review particular concepts such as respecting the right to defense, the understanding of child soldier crimes, particularly girl soldiers. There are many important legal issues to discuss in this realm. We will look at how to work with states and universities to include this kind of discussion and analysis in their curricula, as I believe these issues should be discussed at a worldwide level.. It is important that states educate their own citizens about global justice institutions and the complexities of particular kinds of crimes.
Alongside this, we are developing an idea to involve students from around the world in various activities relating to the Court, whether it is research, moot court competitions on a national or international scale,or other such activities.
It is important to understand that for people of my age and generation, everything was based on a national system. Now, for the younger generation, it’s a global world. Today, while the individuals in your neighborhood are part of your community, your Facebook network is also part of your community—this is the essence of being born into and growing up in a global age.
Given this transformation, we need to understand the Court as a global institution, and thereby develop a common framework for analyzing its activities. The Court’s strength is embodied in its legitimacy, and if academia, for example, does not understand the realities of the Court, then they will criticize its actions, and many in fact do, and this, I believe, is the wrong approach.
LMO: What did you learn from this strategic planning session?
Mallika Kaur Sarkaria – Harvard Kennedy School of Government: In this session I felt honest questions were asked about particular issues, for example, discussing the notion of a hybrid tribunal in Kenya, and whether or not the African court should be a criminal court, and if not, what kind of compromises would have to be made.
All of these were key points to unravel and discuss amongst this particular group of participants. It is also significant that in diving into these issues and questions, genuine disagreement surfaced. It is important to understand these points of debate and to have an open sharing of information and plans, so that the ICC and other justice institutions and organizations can take these issues into account when thinking about their strategic plans.
Rahim Kanani – Harvard Divinity School: I also felt as though a genuine and candid discussion of some core issues facing the ICC and its related bodies had taken place. In particular, discussing issues of education, public engagement, and understanding of the Court on a global scale were crucial in identifying the channels through which this lack of general knowledge could be addressed.
Moreover, building bridges between the ICC, conflict prevention, development and humanitarian NGOs fostered another interesting dialogue. Having the various parties in one room together discussing their future plans and potential areas of alignment hasn’t happened before so this initial step is a kind of breakthrough in itself, though with a long way to go.