International Criminal Justice Figures gather at TCD

Posted on: 20 December 2006

Some of the leading figures in international criminal justice participated in a Roundtable Discussion on War Crimes hosted by the Institute for International Integration Studies (IIIS) at TCD on Monday 18 December. 

At a special reception, Conor Lenihan, TD, Minister of State at the Department of Foreign Affairs with Special Responsibility for Overseas Development and Human Rights welcomed the team assembled at the IIIS. Co-ordinated by Dr. Rosemary Byrne of the Law School, the group included experts from the International Criminal Court, International Criminal Tribunal for the Former Yugoslavia, and the Special Court for Sierra Leone, in addition to lawyers and experts who have been involved with the efforts to prosecute international crimes from Rwanda, Iraq, the Former Yugoslavia, East Timor, Cambodia and beyond.  

With the International Criminal Court soon to begin its first trial, and UN ad hoc Criminal Tribunals for Rwanda and the Former Yugoslavia – the pilot projects of the international war crimes trials-are now in high gear to close their doors within the next two years. As international criminal law has come of age, the demands upon this new war crimes profession are enormous, according to Dr. Byrne.

Drawing upon their diverse and extensive experiences as pioneers in the field, the speakers discussed how to prepare the legal profession to perform these highly politicized and complex trials.

The President of the UN International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda (ICTR), Erik Møse, has been a judge in some of the most important trials of the century which have established accountability for some of the key perpetrators of the Rwandan genocide that claimed over 800,000 lives in 1994. These trials include the Media Trial that established accountability for the role of the press and radio in promoting the genocide. The Military Trial, that is now winding up, is trying the major military leaders alleged to have orchestrated the genocide. As the first experiment of international justice based in Africa, the troubles and turn-around of ICTR raise offer many insights into contemporary debates about how the international community should respond to atrocities.

Among the other participants at the event were Judge René Blattmann, Vice-President of the International Criminal Court, Judge Teresa Doherty, Special Court for Sierra Leone and Judge Wolfgang Schomburg from the ICTY.