ICC

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.

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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.

Since accused Lord’s Resistance Army leader Dominic Ongwen surrendered to the International Criminal Court in January 2015, there’s been much discussion of the effect, if any, of reports that he was abducted as a child into the Uganda rebel group, and eventually committed international crimes himself.

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ICC Prosecutor Fatou Bensouda (© ICC-CPI)

ICC Prosecutor Fatou Bensouda responded in her opening statement this morning,  on the 1st day of trial in Prosecutor v. Ongwen (transcript, video, and audio available here). First she discussed the crimes with which he is charged, against children and adults alike. Then Bensouda turned to the accused himself:

“One aspect of this case is the fact that not only is Ongwen alleged to be the perpetrator of these crimes, he was also a victim.”

About this, Bensouda said:

“The reality is that cruel men can do kind things and kind men can be cruel. A hundred percent consistency is a rare thing. And the phenomenon of the perpetrator-victim is not restricted to international courts: it is a familiar one in all criminal jurisdictions. Fatherless children in bleak inner cities face brutal and involuntary initiation ordeals into gang life, before themselves taking on a criminal lifestyle. Child abusers consistently reveal that they have been abused themselves as children.

“But having suffered victimization in the past is not a justification, nor an excuse to victimise others. Each human being must be considered to be endowed with moral responsibility for their actions. And the focus of the ICC’s criminal process is not on the goodness or badness of the accused person, but on the criminal acts which he or she has committed. We are not here to deny that Mr. Ongwen was a victim in his youth. We will prove what he did, what he said, and the impact of those deeds on his many victims.

“This Court will not decide his goodness or badness, nor whether he deserves sympathy, but whether he is guilty of the serious crimes committed as an adult, with which he stands charged.”

I’ve just posted at SSRN the chapter I published at the beginning of the year in The Cambridge Companion to International Criminal Law, edited by Professor William A. Schabas.

policyThe chapter, entitled “Children,” aims to look back at developments in the area since World War II, and then to cast a forward glance at the comprehensive approach now under way at the International Criminal Court – where, incidentally, the ICC Office of the Prosecutor Policy on Children will be launched on November 16, 2016. I was privileged to help with drafting in my capacity as Special Adviser to the Prosecutor on this issue. (prior posts) The date coincides with the start of the annual meeting of the ICC Assembly of States Parties.

Here’s the abstract for my article:

cambridgeThis chapter, which appears in The Cambridge Companion to International Criminal Law (William A. Schabas ed. 2016), discusses how international criminal law instruments and institutions address crimes against and affecting children. It contrasts the absence of express attention in the post-World War II era with the multiple provisions pertaining to children in the 1998 Statute of the International Criminal Court. The chapter examines key judgments in that court and in the Special Court for Sierra Leone, as well as the ICC’s current, comprehensive approach to the effects that crimes within its jurisdiction have on children. The chapter concludes with a discussion of challenges to the prevention and punishment of such international crimes.

SSRN e-journals where this abstract may be found (thanks to always-welcome assistance from TJ Striepe of Georgia Law’s Alexander Campbell King Law Library) include the University of Georgia School of Law Legal Studies Research Paper Series and the Dean Rusk International Law Center Research Paper Series.

(Cross-posted from Exchange of Notes)

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Very pleased to announce that papers from a Georgia Law conference “Children & International Criminal Justice” have just been published by our Georgia Journal of International & Comparative Law.

The conference was cosponsored by Dean Rusk International Law Center and the Georgia Law Project on Armed Conflict & Children, as well as the university’s African Studies Institute, the Planethood Foundation, and the American Society of International Law-Southeast.

About 2 dozen experts came to Athens, Georgia, from as far as Doha and Kinshasa, to discuss the topic at hand. In so doing, they assisted in the preparation of the International Criminal Court Office of the Prosecutor Policy on Children. As detailed in recent posts, available here and here, the public comment period for the draft of that Policy continues through August 5, 2016, with launch of the final document set for mid-November.

bensouda_me2_28oct14cropA keynote speech by ICC Prosecutor Fatou Bensouda (at right) highlighted our conference, and the text of her speech headlines the edition. Other writings link the work of the ICC to the 1989 Convention of the Rights of the Child, examine the experiences of children in armed conflict and similar situations. Student rapporteurs’ accounts of expert breakout sessions additionally treat a range of issues. All these papers contributed significantly to the Policy process.

The edition concludes with students’ notes apart from the conference; one of these, for which I was honored to serve as faculty adviser, examines the issue of child marriage.

Here, in full, is the table of contents for Volume 43, issue 3, with PDF links to each article:

Children and International Criminal Justice Conference

“Convening Experts on Children and International Criminal Justice,” by yours truly, Diane Marie Amann (above, at left), Associate Dean for International Programs & Strategic Initiatives and Emily & Ernest Woodruff Chair in International Law, and also Prosecutor Bensouda’s Special Adviser on Children in & affected by Armed Conflict

“Children and International Criminal Justice,” by Fatou Bensouda (above, at right), Prosecutor of the International Criminal Court

malone“Maturing Justice: Integrating the Convention on the Rights of the Child into the Judgments and Processes of the International Criminal Court,” by Linda A. Malone (right), Marshall-Wythe Foundation Professor of Law and Founding Director of the Human Security Law Center, William & Mary Law School

drumblm“Children, Armed Violence and Transition: Challenges for International Law & Policy,” by Mark Drumbl (left), Class of 1975 Alumni Professor of Law and Director of the Transnational Law Institute at Washington & Lee University School of Law

“Child Protection in Times of Conflict and Children and International Criminal Justice,” by Kerry L. Neal neal(right), Child Protection Specialist, Justice for Children, UNICEF, New York

“Expert Workshop Session: Regulatory Framework,” by Ashley Ferrelli, Eric Heath, Eulen Jang, and Cory Takeuchi (all Georgia Law graduates, who were members of GJICL)

“Expert Workshop Session: Child Witnesses: Testimony, Evidence, and Witness Protection,” by Chelsea Swanson, Elizabeth DeVos, Chloe Ricke, and Andy Shin (now Georgia Law graduates, all then were members of GJICL)

“Expert Workshop Session: The Global Child,” by Haley Chafin, Jena Emory, Meredith Head, and Elizabeth Verner (all Georgia Law graduates, who were members of GJICL)

Student Notes

“Changing the Game: The Effects of the 2012 Revision of the ICC Arbitration Rules on the ICC Model Arbitration Clause for Trust Disputes,” by Colin Connor

“Water, Water Everywhere, But Just How Much is Clean?: Examining Water Quality Restoration Efforts Under the United States Clean Water Act and the United States-Canada Great Lakes Water Quality Agreement,” by Jill T. Hauserman

“REACHing for Environmental and Economic Harmony: Can TTIP Negotiations Bridge the U.S.-EU Chemical Regulatory Gap?,” by Ashley Henson

“Child Marriage in Yemen: A Violation of International Law,” by Elizabeth Verner

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THE HAGUE, Netherlands – Experts gathered this week from around the world for a wide-ranging consultation on the International Criminal Court Office of the Prosecutor’s draft Policy on Children.

In her Opening Remarks to Monday’s consultation, Prosecutor Fatou Bensouda explained:

“This Policy, once finalised and adopted, will guide my Office in our ongoing efforts to address international crimes against or affecting children under the Rome Statute, as well as our interaction with children during the course of our work.

“The Policy will further provide clarity and transparency on how we intend to methodologically undertake this crucial work.

“Additionally, it is my hope that this Policy will also serve as a useful guide for national authorities and other actors in their respective endeavours to address crimes against and affecting children, and in their interactions with children in judicial processes.”

Released last month, the draft Policy:

► Reaffirms an oft-repeated commitment of the Prosecutor. To be precise, the Policy reinforces her Office’s concern for “children with weapons” – that is, persons under fifteen who have been recruited or used in armed groups, often called “child soldiers.” But it also details the Office’s concern for what the Prosecutor called “children affected by the weapons” – that is, all persons who, before their 18th birthday, endured crimes within the jurisdiction of the Court.

► Adopts a child-sensitive approach to its dealings with children. That approach recognizes children as both vulnerable and capable, as both needy and resilient – often, at the same time. The Policy pledges sensitivity to these realities according to the regulatory framework of the Rome Statute system, and also according to principles drawn from international instruments, like the 1989 Convention on the Rights of the Child, a treaty that enjoys near-universal ratification and is founding on 4 guiding principles:

  1. The child’s right to be treated without adverse discrimination;
  2. The right to life, survival, and development;
  3. The right to have the child’s best interests taken into account; and
  4. The child’s right to express views and have them considered.

The draft Policy on Children (available in full here) explicitly recognizes those principles and sets out the contours for respecting and ensuring them.

It thus enumerates crimes against and affecting children. Included are crimes of conscription and use, as well as child trafficking as enslavement and forcible transfer as genocide. Also included are crimes like persecution, if it targets children on the basis or age or birth, as well as attacks on schools.

The policy further details the approach of the Office with respect to children at all stages of the proceedings: preliminary examinations, investigations, prosecutions, sentencing, and reparations.

All these aspects received discussion at Monday’s consultation; some are reflected in tweets available at #EndCrimesAgainstChildren. The policy working group will be considered along with other public comments. The Office welcomes additional such comments, which should be sent via e-mail to OTPLegalAdvisorySection@icc-cpi.int no later than Friday, August 5, 2016. The Office anticipates final publication in October of this year.

It was an honor to take part in this consultation in my capacity as the Prosecutor’s Special Adviser on Children in & affected by Armed Conflict – and also to be accompanied at the consultation by one of my Georgia Law students, Chanel Chauvet. (We’re pictured below in front of a mural at the ICC’s new permanent premises.) A  rising 2L and Dean Rusk International Law Center Student Ambassador, Chanel just completed a weeklong Hague summer school on international humanitarian law.

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THE HAGUE, Netherlands – International Criminal Justice Day isn’t till next Sunday, but The Hague is ready. Flags like the one depicted above greet visitors throughout city center.

Occurring every July 17, the Day coincides with the signing in 1998 of the Rome Statute of the International Criminal Court – a landmark moment in the movement to call perpetrators of international crimes to account. The court began operating on July 1, 2002, and since then has examined, investigated, prosecuted, or adjudicated cases arising in nearly 19 countries, from Afghanistan to Ukraine.

To mark this 18th anniversary of the Rome Diplomatic Conference, the ICC welcomes photos from around the world. The idea’s to create an image of the scales of justice and show its presence throughout the world by posting on social media with hashtags #JusticeMatters, #17July, and #ICC. Details here.

Further to that effort, yours truly looks forward to today’s roundtable consultation on the draft Policy on Children, opened for public comment last month by the ICC’s Office of the Prosecutor.

draftpolicyIt is my great honor to note today’s release for public comment of the draft Policy on Children of the International Criminal Court Office of the Prosecutor.

Since my December 2012 appointment as Prosecutor Fatou Bensouda’s Special Adviser on Children in and affected by Armed Conflict, I’ve had the privilege of helping to convene consultations and taking part in the construction of this draft Policy. As part of that process, as noted on page 11 of the draft, we at the Dean Rusk International Law Center, University of Georgia School of Law, were honored in October 2014 to host the Prosecutor, members of her staff, and nearly 2 dozen other experts from academic, nongovernmental groups, and intergovernmental organizations. Our “Children & International Criminal Justice” conference featured a morning public plenary and Prosecutor’s keynote (pictured below), followed by an afternoon of closed-door breakout sessions. (Proceedings from that event, to appear in our Georgia Journal of International & Comparative Law, are nearing publication.)

Addressed in the draft Policy, which spans 37 pages, are:

► Overarching concerns, such as the nature of a child and childhood, the experiences of children in armed conflict and other contexts within the jurisdiction of the ICC, and how the Rome Statute of the ICC and other documents treat crimes against and affecting children; and

► Practical concerns, such as how the Office of the Prosecutor engages with children, in all aspects of its work, including preliminary examination, investigation, charging, prosecution, sentencing, reparations, and external relations.

As stated in the press release accompanying today’s publication:

In highlighting the importance of the Policy, Prosecutor Bensouda stated: “when I assumed 8_events2the role of Prosecutor in June 2012, one of the principal goals I set for the Office was to ensure that we pay particular attention not only to ‘children with arms’, but also ‘children affected by arms.’ This Policy demonstrates our firm commitment to closing the impunity gap for crimes against or affecting children, and adopting a child-sensitive approach in all aspects of our work bearing in mind their rights and best interests. It is also our hope that the Policy, once adopted, will serve as a useful guide to national authorities in their efforts to address crimes against children.”

The Office welcomes public comment on the draft. Such comments should be e-mailed to OTPLegalAdvisorySection@icc-cpi.int, no later than Friday, August 5, 2016.

Following revisions based on the comments, the Office of the Prosecutor expects to publish the final Policy on Children in November of this year.

paperToday Fatou Bensouda, the International Criminal Court Prosecutor, released a draft Policy Paper on Case Selection & Prioritisation, and welcomed public comment. The paper’s aimed at “clarifying how the Office of the Prosecutor selects and prioritises cases after a decision has been made to open an investigation into a situation.”

The 16-page draft is available, in English and French, here; comments may be e-mailed to otp_spi@icc-cpi.int through Friday, March 18, 2016.

Reprinted in full, “No child should be made to suffer such horrors,” the statement issued today by International Criminal Court Prosecutor Fatou Bensouda in commemoration of the 13th anniversary of the entry into force of the 2000 Optional Protocol on the Involvement of Children in Armed Conflict — a date known since then as the International Day against the Use of Child Soldiers:

2bensoudaThousands of children around the world continue to be used as soldiers and affected by the horrors of war.  Instead of a childhood filled with tranquillity and joy, learning and play, children are far too often the primary victims of armed conflict, where they are trained and forced to kill, rape, pillage, and undertake hard physical labour.  Their traumatisation should weigh heavily on our collective conscience, and cannot be left unabated.

The daily reality for these children, boys and girls, is both appalling and traumatic. Thrust into battle zones, they must struggle to survive or perish, often through violent deaths; where they are forced to witness or commit unspeakable acts of violence against others, military or civilian, men, women or children, at times, even against their own families. They may be exposed and fall victim to horrific sexual violence.

The Rome Statute of the International Criminal Court (ICC) mandates the ICC Prosecutor to investigate and prosecute the crimes of genocide, war crimes and crimes against humanity – crimes which shock the conscience of humanity.  The conscription, enlistment and use of child soldiers figure amongst the most reprehensible crimes under the Rome Statute.

There is no such thing in the Rome Statute as lawful conscription of children under the age of 15 into the armed forces or groups, or their enlistment irrespective of whether the child joins voluntarily or through compulsion. Those who recruit children or use them to take active part in hostilities are committing serious crimes and must be held accountable.

The law must be a cornerstone of protection for all children in war zones. On this International Day against the Use of Child Soldiers, the world owes it to our children to renew its collective resolve to prevent and end impunity for these crimes.  This is not only a moral imperative and a legal duty under the Rome Statute, but necessary to ensure the success of future generations.  A crime against a child is an offence against all of humanity.