ICC


“‘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).

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.

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.


LOS ANGELES – On this International Holocaust Remembrance Day, I am honored to be spending this month at the USC Shoah Foundation, reviewing testimonies of persons who did their part to set right one of history’s terrible wrongs.

Seventy-three years ago today, Soviet troops liberated Auschwitz-Birkenau, the infamous Nazi concentration camp located about 45 miles west of Kraków, Poland. Liberations of other camps by other Allied forces soon followed; among them, the U.S. liberation of Buchenwald on April 11, 1945, and the British liberation of Bergen-Belsen 4 days later.

Sixty years later, a 2005 U.N. General Assembly resolution set this date aside for commemoration of World War II atrocities (image credit); to quote the resolution, of

“… the Holocaust, which resulted in the murder of one third of the Jewish people, along with countless members of other minorities …”

The resolution further:

  • honored “the courage and dedication shown by the soldiers who liberated the concentration camps”;
  • rejected “any denial of the Holocaust as an historical event”;
  • envisaged the Holocaust as “a warning to all people of the dangers of hatred, bigotry, racism and prejudice”;
  • denounced “all manifestations of religious intolerance, incitement, harassment or violence against persons or communities based on ethnic origin or religious belief, wherever they occur”; and
  • encouraged initiatives designed to “inculcate future generations with the lessons of the Holocaust in order to help to prevent future acts of genocide.”

Among the many such initiatives are memorial centers and foundations throughout the world – 2 of which have helped me in my own research into the roles that women played during postwar international criminal trials at Nuremberg.

In December, the Holocaust Memorial and Tolerance Center of Nassau County, located in Glen Cove, New York, opened its archives to me. Special thanks to Helen  Turner, archivist and Director of Youth Education, for her assistance.

This month, as the inaugural Breslauer, Rutman and Anderson Research Fellow, I am in residence at the University of Southern California, examining documents in USC Shoah Foundation’s Visual History Archive. It has been a fruitful and moving scholarly experience, and I look forward to sharing my research at a public lecture on campus at 4 p.m. this Tuesday, Jan. 30, video available here (as I was honored to do last week at UCLA Law’s Promise Institute for Human Rights; video here). Special thanks to all at the foundation’s Center for Advanced Research – Wolf Gruner, Martha Stroud, Badema Pitic, Isabella Evalynn Lloyd-Damnjanovic, and Marika Stanford-Moore – and to the donors who endowed the research fellowship. (Fellowship info here.)

As reflected in the 2005 General Assembly resolution, the work of such institutions helps to entrench – and to prevent backsliding from – states’ promises to ensure and respect human rights and dignity norms, set out in instruments like the 1945 Charter of the United Nations, the 1948 Convention on the Prevention and Punishment of Genocide, the 1948 Universal Declaration of Human Rights, and the 1966 International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights. To this list I would add the many documents establishing international criminal fora to prosecute persons charge with violating such norms – from  the Nuremberg-era tribunals through to today’s International Criminal Court.

LONDON – “Optimism” was the byword for Friday’s magical conference launching Arcs of Global Justice: Essays in Honour of William A. Schabas, the just-published Oxford University Press collection coedited by Margaret M. deGuzman and myself.

The event took place in a Christmas-tree-lighted conference room at 9 Bedford Row, the London chambers where our honouree, Bill Schabas (above center), is a door tenant. Joining Bill and his wife, Penelope Soteriou, were several of the 35 women and men whose 29 contributions comprise the volume, many friends, colleagues, PhD students, and relatives.

Gillian Higgins (left), Head of the International Practice Group at 9 Bedford Row, opened with a warm message of welcome and congratulations. Then followed a celebration that combined lighthearted anecdotes with serious presentations of scholarship. Topics ranged as far and wide as Schabas’ multifaceted career, which includes current appointments as Professor of International Law at Middlesex University, London, Professor of International Criminal Law and Human Rights at Leiden University, and Emeritus Professor of Human Rights Law and Honorary Chairman of the Irish Centre for Human Rights, National University of Ireland Galway; service as a member of the Sierra Leone Truth and Reconciliation Commission and as a consultant on capital punishment for the United Nations Office of Drugs and Crime; and authorship of hundreds of books, chapters, and articles.

A sobering moment came in Birkbeck Lecturer Emma Sandon‘s discussion of Schabas’ role as an organizer of and speaker at human rights film festivals. Sandon (above) concluded with a clip from Judgment at Nuremberg (1961). All fell silent while watching the characters in the video courtroom watch actual footage from the Allied liberations of concentration camps like Buchenwald.

Also moving was the memorial that Northwestern University Law Professor David Scheffer gave on behalf of contributor Cherif Bassiouni, who died at age 79 in September, not long after finishing his chapter, entitled “Human Rights and International Criminal Justice in the Twenty-First Century: The End of the Post-WWII Phase and the Beginning of an Uncertain New Era.” (Bassiouni also penned a dedication for our conference programme, available in PDF here.) Scheffer described the essay in light of his own and Schabas’ writings, and concluded on a optimistic note regarding the future of human rights.

That same note sounded in Schabas’ own interventions throughout the day. On issues ranging from the International Criminal Court to abolition of the death penalty, he assured his audience that even in these times, when the day-to-day “weather” may seem grim, the overall “climate” offers much room for optimism.

Here’s order of the day (full PDF programme here; additional contributors in attendance included Middlesex Law Dean Joshua Castellino and Cambridge PhD candidate Bruno Gélinas-Faucher):

Arcs of Global Justice:
Conference Launching Essay Collection in Honour of William A. Schabas
Friday, 8 December 2017, 9 Bedford Row, London

Opening
“Welcome” by Gillian Higgins, Head of the International Practice Group at 9 Bedford Row
“In Memoriam for Cherif Bassiouni” by David Scheffer, Mayer Brown/Robert A. Helman Professor of Law and Director of the Center for International Human Rights at Northwestern University Pritzker School of Law, Chicago
“Introduction to Arcs of Global Justice” by coeditors Diane Marie Amann and Margaret M. deGuzman

International Law & Criminal Justice
“The Principle of Legality at the Crossroads of Human Rights & International Criminal Law” by Shane Darcy, Senior Lecturer at the Irish Centre for Human Rights, National University of Ireland Galway
“Criminal Law Philosophy in William Schabas’s Scholarship” by Margaret M. deGuzman, Professor of Law at Temple University’s Beasley School of Law
“Perspectives on Cultural Genocide: From Criminal Law to Cultural Diversity” by Jérémie Gilbert, Professor of International and Comparative Law, University of East London
“Toward Greater Synergy between Courts & Truth Commissions in Post-Conflict Context: Lessons from Sierra Leone” by Charles Chernor Jalloh, Professor of Law, Florida International University, and a member of the International Law Commission
Moderator: Kathleen Cavanaugh, Senior Lecturer at the Irish Centre for Human Rights, National University of Ireland Galway

Justice / Scholarship / Culture / Practice
“Bill the Blogger” by Diane Marie Amann, Emily and Ernest Woodruff Chair in International Law and Faculty Co-Director of the Dean Rusk International Law Center at the University of Georgia School of Law
“Advocates, Scholars & Maintaining the International Criminal Law Momentum” by Wayne Jordash QC, international human rights and humanitarian lawyer and founding partner of Global Rights Compliance
“Law & Film: Curating Rights Cinema” by Emma Sandon, Senior Lecturer in Film and Television at Birkbeck, University of London, and a Research Fellow to the Chair for Social Change, University of Johannesburg
Moderator: Michelle Farrell, Senior Lecturer in Law in the School of Law and Social Justice, University of Liverpool

Abolition of the Death Penalty
“International Law & the Death Penalty: A Toothless Tiger, or a Meaningful Force for Change?” by Sandra L. Babcock, Clinical Professor of Law at Cornell Law School and Faculty Director of the Cornell Center on the Death Penalty Worldwide
The Right to Life & the Progressive Abolition of the Death Penalty by Thomas Probert, Research Associate, Centre of Governance & Human Rights, University of Cambridge (on behalf of himself & co-authors Christof Heyns & Tess Borden)
Moderator: Jon Yorke, Professor of Human Rights and Director of the Centre for Human Rights at Birmingham City School of Law

Closing
Introduction by John Louth, Editor-in-Chief of Academic Law at Oxford University Press
Remarks by William A. Schabas OC MRIA

Reception

With thanks to our host, 9 Bedford Row, & cosponsor, Oxford University Press

◊ ◊ ◊

Tomorrow’s post: Details on Arcs of Justice: Essays in Honour of William A. Schabas (Margaret M. deGuzman and Diane Marie Amann, eds.) (OUP 2018) (The hardback may be ordered via OUP or Amazon, and the book’s also available on Kindle.)

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.

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.